What the heck happened to November? It seemed to be nothing more than a flash after a beautiful and mild October by our Maryland standards. I distinctly recall Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, and a few football games here and there, but wow. Perhaps it lies in the fact that being a lifelong Phillies fan, I was simply engrossed in a magical time warp which lasted throughout the month of October and the World Series, known as the October Classic, was mostly played in November?
Whatever the case, I’m sure, you, like me, had no idea that we missed a pivotal commemoration at the start of the famed 11th month, which I found out actually derived its name from the Latin word “novem” which means nine. November was originally the ninth month of the early Roman calendar, but I digress. The special day in question (that I missed) was November 1st, none other than “National Cremation Day.”
Well, since I’m a cemetery employee, you certainly have more of an excuse than me to let this particular date get by you. And don’t worry, you didn’t miss much as there were no parades, special meals, gift exchanges, special church services, firework displays, or people wearing a certain color in honor of the practice of cremation. However, that’s not to say that some of these activities did not occur—because they did for another reason.
All right, much of the previous rant was “tongue-in-cheek” as most of our readers know me by now. November 1st was designated as National Cremation Day back in fall of 2018. This date was chosen wisely as it actually falls on All Saints’ Day, and is sandwiched between two days with “life-long” associations with cemeteries and burial grounds.
In the Christian tradition, All Saints’ Day is a festival honoring all the saints, both known and unknown. It is renowned in Mexico as it begins a celebration known as the Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos in the Spanish language. This is a multi-day holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for, and remember, lost loved ones, and to help support their spiritual journey. People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed (children on the 1st and adults on the 2nd) and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so they will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. In places around the world like Mexico, celebrations can take a humorous tone, as participants recount funny events and anecdotes about the departed.
Many Americans celebrate All Saints’ Day, typically by attending special church services. It only seems fitting here in Frederick to do so as our town’s Protestant Episcopal congregation has shared the name of “All Saints” (All Saints’ Church) since the towns founding back in the mid-1700s. And yes, this group’s original house of worship, complete with burying ground, gave rise to the street name located adjacent their former property along Carroll Creek.
Let's get back to National Cremation Day, shall we? It finds itself following the American tradition of Halloween, celebrated the day/night before (November 1st) on October 31st. Of course, this unofficial holiday has been heavily commercialized with candy and costumes, and for some reason keeps many people as far away from cemeteries as possible because of the unfounded narrative of creepiness. On the other hand, November 2nd is All Soul’s Day, an open invitation to visit burial grounds. Also called The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day is a day of prayer and remembrance for the faithful departed and observed by certain Christian denominations on this date since the 10th century. Through prayer, intercessions, alms and visits to cemeteries, people commemorate the poor souls in purgatory and gain them indulgences.
Now that we know the significance of the date, what is the true significance and purpose of National Cremation Day? This was my thought a few years ago as I read articles about its creation. The main purpose given is simply to point out the fact that the practice of cremation has revolutionized the funeral and burial industry over the last few decades. Nationally, cremation has overtaken burials for the past six years, but Maryland has lagged slightly behind, according to data from the National Funeral Directors Association. In 2020, the association showed cremation rivaling traditional burial at a rate of 50%.
The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) reported the cremation rate has grown more than 100 percent over the past eighteen years, from 25 percent in 2000 to almost 53 percent today. In some states, the rate now exceeds 70 percent. A bit of online searching showed me that Japan leads the world at 100% cremation of its residents with several neighboring Asian countries close behind. India is at 75%. On the other hand, the country of Romania has a 1% cremation rate. Here at home, Nevada leads the United States at 81%, followed by Maine (80.2%) and Oregon (79.5%).
What’s behind these dramatic changes? Is this simply a factor of people breaking with family and faith traditions of the past? Or, is it a result of economics and the transitory nature of Americans? Most analysts say it’s due to three major reasons: the high cost of traditional funerals; the growing secularization of Americans; and the increased interest in green end-of-life solutions.
The recession of the late 2000s certainly contributed to change as cremation had always been seen as a cheaper alternative to traditional burial. Add to this the fact that casket prices rose over 230 percent from December 1986 - September 2017 according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). An urn, is an economic alternative, but in many cases, families opt for the minimum of placing the provided container/box from the funeral home/crematory within mausoleum niches and small plastic vaults required for traditional burial of cremains. Like the casket, it will be unseen into perpetuity unless you choose a glass-front niche.
The NFDA also indicate that fewer Americans today are looking to include a religious component in their end-of-life planning. A couple of decades ago, about 95% of Americans reported belonging to a religious group. Today, it’s more like 75%. And fewer Americans are actively religious. According to some studies, the percentage of “regular churchgoers” may now be as low as 15%. Religious tradition and services had centered on traditional burial for centuries in western culture. Breaking with tradition is a brave thing to do for some.
Based on its nature, cremation certainly creates a quandary with “the Green movement” because of emissions. Just as there is green burial, there is a new “green cremation” technology called Alkaline Hydrolysis, or “Aquamation.” It is legal in 21 states (including Maryland) for humans, but from what I read, nowhere in Maryland is set up for this yet. This process does not require incineration, but instead emulates what happens in nature, where water and time helps to decompose the deceased. But instead of requiring decades, the process takes around 3-4 hours.
As you can see, cremation has certainly impacted the industry. In the same vein, it has also uniquely changed the way public grieving and memorialization is conducted by giving more options that are not time-constrained. If anything else, the decision to cremate generally allows time for the family to make decisions about a memorial service and plans for a final resting place if this hasn’t occurred already. Individuals may not have to make immediate travel plans to the scene of burial as was always the case with immediate burial within days after death. However, the suspension, or pushing back, of closure could bring its own issues, but this is a conversation best led by a grief counselor or licensed psychologist.
We here in the cemetery business are seeing an issue of people getting over their grief, but sometimes not acting in a timely or responsible manner in carrying out the decedent’s orders by putting them in a proper resting place. More on that in a bit.
From personal experience, I have lost both parents. My father was buried in traditional manner and we had two wakes and a full funeral service in the three days after his passing. My mother was cremated upon her passing, and my brothers (living in Orlando and Brooklyn respectively) and I hosted a memorial service six months later. My folks had different approaches toward their end-of-life planning and I look back at both services being comforting send-offs. The lasting thing for my siblings and I is knowing that we carried out our divorced parents final wishes on how, and where, their mortal remains would be placed and memorialized.
My father is buried in his hometown of Delaware City, Delaware, only feet from his parents and grandparents and other relatives in a small-town burying ground. It’s located across the street from his boyhood home, currently the house of his brother, last living member of Dad’s immediate family. My mother lived her final decades outside of Shepherdstown, WV. One of her biggest loves of her life was her church, St. Agnes Catholic Church, where she was an ordained altar-server.
In the mid-2010s, the Shepherdstown church announced plans to build a columbarium on their grounds and she shared this news, and her desire to be placed here, with me. I accompanied her on a few trips to observe the construction, and she was always excited to show me her outdoor niche. However, I never would have thought that we would be placing her there only a year and a half after its completion.
Cemeteries are for the living they say—responsible for providing a dignified place for those buried within its grounds. They are to be a comforting place for visitors, and places of contemplation and reverence.
One of my oft repeated lines to history lecture and walking tour participants is this. They say you die two deaths. The first is the obvious failure of the human body and shutdown of the vital organs and brain. The second (death) is the true death blow, and that involves people not saying your name anymore, or visiting your grave, or remembering that you walked the earth. That’s why I like visiting cemeteries, and writing/telling these stories about those buried, and inurned, here at Mount Olivet.
I recently came across a blog by a lady named Katie Thornton that gave me reason for pause. In her article entitled “Why Cemeteries Tell us More About the Living Than the Dead,” Ms. Thornton says:
”Most monuments to history are created in a top-down manner. Individuals “earn” (in inverted commas) a place in our mainstream retelling of history through a combination of notable deeds and substantial social privilege. Cemeteries are, in theory, more representative archives; in these spaces, individuals and families are given an opportunity to etch their own names into the annals of history.
But in order to write oneself into the cemetery’s archival landscape, one has to be allowed there. Globally and throughout time, people have been (and continue to be) prevented from erecting markers—or excluded entirely from certain cemeteries—based on their inability to pay, or their race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, sexuality, and illness/disability. So, while cemeteries may be more egalitarian archives, they are archives no less. As such, they bear many of the shortcomings and conspicuous vacancies of more formal repositories of history, like museums and monuments.”
Today, all individuals are welcome to be interred and memorialized here in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Now we are operating as a business, so there are costs involved. But the opportunity exists. I’ve also seen where those costs have influenced some people to cut corners, or in some cases, not carry through plans made by the decedent. This could be due to financial hardship, but sadly in some cases it is because of laziness and in yet other very unfortunate cases, family fighting or greed is to blame. Existing rifts, coupled with the potential for financial gain through estate inheritance can do terrible things to some families.
This time of year, many a home will be decorated with holiday stockings hanging from a proverbial mantel and recent phenomenon of “elves on shelves.” But there are plenty of homes where Santa must use specific care upon recovery from chimney drops (with bags of toys) as not to disturb loved ones in the form of cremains placed on mantels and shelves.
Now, I don’t mean to offend, as I understand that the grieving process requires this in some cases with certain individuals and no judgement here. However, I do get a little “weird-ed out” by people that say they have no better place to store Aunt Betty, or will get to finding her a better place at some point later in the future. And what if that point doesn’t come? Will people move urns of cremains around from home to home like kid sports trophies and childhood trinkets? What happens if Grandpa Herb is dropped, lost, or forgotten when his cremains got stuffed in a plastic storage bin with old college books and childhood baseball card collections?
I can hear some people laughing, or simply saying, what’s the difference in the bigger picture. Well, I simply ask not what you would think if these ashes were yours, (because you may not care) but what about the decedent? What were their thoughts and wishes about final resting place, memorialization and level of reverence? To each their own, but I don’t want my ashes tossed about like a football or packed away and unpacked on several moves. Eventually this could lead to somebody down the line throwing me in a dumpster, or dropping me on a city street. Again personal choice, but remember I come from this from the context of having a career based on celebrating and remembering those no longer with us. I strive to keep people from experiencing that poetic, second realm of death-dom of simply being forgotten forever.
Four years ago, we were approached by our good friends at Stauffer Funeral Home with a conundrum. We were told of a situation they had on their hands involving "orphaned cremains." They had a closet-full of packaged cremains and urns that had not yet been claimed, most dating back decades. This included multiple individuals, all well labeled, but possessing no eternal home and final resting place.
As I just said, these cremains (people/loved ones) had simply never been retrieved for proper inurnment, burial or mantel placement, if anything else. Stauffer did not accumulate these remains on their “business watch” as these were inherited through their acquisition of the former Robert E. Dailey & Son Funeral Home. Stauffer felt a profound obligation to find a proper “final home,” and reached out to us for help.
A solution came into view with the idea of purchasing a communal crypt space in our main chapel mausoleum. Stauffer purchased a location, and provided a casket to house 61 individual cremains. This exercise allowed us to record each of these individuals for posterity in our interment books, giving them a permanent resting place in a reverent and respectful manner. I was really impressed by this gesture by Stauffer, finding a tasteful solution to a problem that had been on the table (literally and figuratively) for years. Soon after, Keeney & Basford Funeral Home would follow suit by also purchasing a cryptspace in our mausoleum for their “orphaned cremains.”
When our Superintendent was creating interment cards and entering these individuals in our books back in 2018, I randomly picked one of the names and decided to conduct some biographical research work. The name I pulled was that of Marion Louise MacPhail.
Unlike my usual hunts to learn about those possessing memorial “stones” in the cemetery, these people have no physical monuments built to them, or plaques showing their names. Moreso, I wondered why no one had picked them up from the funeral home?
Even in the earlier days of Mount Olivet, we had an area called “Strangers Row,” where unknown or destitute visitors to town or individuals were buried. This had to be done, as there was no other recourse to humanely deal with a corpse at a time predating cremation. Sometimes, family members, friends and acquaintances would never know the whereabouts of an individual—especially if they were “estranged.”
This situation with orphaned cremains sort of reminded me of that situation, but I’m sure factors of procrastination, laziness, destitution, and family dysfunction could have also played a role in abandoning these cremains.
Marion L. MacPhail
She’s now coded as burial #39663 in our Mount Olivet records system, and the box that holds her cremains simply includes her name and a cremation number given by Cedar Hill Cemetery in Washington, DC, where the process was conducted. Marion Louise MacPhail was 83 years old at the time of her death in November, 1980 and that's all we knew upon receiving her cremains from Stauffer Funeral Home.
Imagine my surprise when, with a simple Google search, I learned that this box contained the mortal remains of the woman whose name is synonymous with an annual award given to Hood College students since the early 1970s! THE MARION MACPHAIL PRIZE is awarded to a senior major in Spanish who is not a native Spanish speaker and has not lived in a Spanish-speaking country for more than three months prior to entering Hood College. This award is given in recognition of proficiency in the Spanish language.
My heart sunk as I said to myself, how could a collegiate-award namesake have her ashes left in a closet for decades? Now this wasn’t Hood College’s fault, and perhaps there is no one to blame, but I wanted to learn more about this interesting lady and her life once lived.
Born on March 22nd, 1897 in New York City, Professor MacPhail was the daughter of Malcolm Russell MacPhail (1864-1941) and wife Janet Louise (Woodburn) MacPhail (1868-1945), both immigrants of Canada who moved to Brooklyn, New York around 1890. Marion had one brother, Walter Russell (1902-1971), and spent her childhood years in New York where her father worked in banking.
I learned from Malcolm MacPhail’s obituary (published in 1941) that the family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1914. From here, Marion would be readily prepared for her future with higher learning. She attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, followed by a return to New York City to obtain her Master’s degree from Columbia University. Additional studies took her abroad to the University of Madrid in Spain, the University of Grenoble in France, and the Middlebury School of Languages in Middlebury, VT.
The first mention of Marion L. MacPhail in Frederick, MD came with a listing of new faculty members for Hood College for the fall semester of 1926. She is listed as an Assistant Professor of French. This began a career that would span 40 years over the next four decades. She would retire as associate professor emerita of modern languages in 1966.
Over this span, she taught Spanish as well. I found her living on Dill Avenue with the family of John Grove in the 1930 US census. A decade later she would reside on Elm Street. Both locations made for an easy commute to her day job. She seemed to spend many holidays and early summers going home to North Carolina.
Here are a couple articles found in the local papers that give a hint to Miss MacPhail's activities as an educator that took her out of the classroom to give students special learning experiences.
I reached out to my friend Mary Atwell, Archivist and Collections Development Librarian for Hood College for some assistance. She sent me some images of Miss MacPhail from Hood yearbooks and also a questionnaire for the school's Publicity Department filled out in 1943 which shed more light on this learned lady’s educational credentials among confirmation of vital information I had already gleaned.
I found plenty of mentions of Marion in the local newspapers of yesteryear. Most were faculty listings and school-related activities as you would imagine. One of the earliest included news of her return from a summer break trip to France and Spain. Her students would be enriched by her tales of travel and everyday use of the languages she taught them.
Professor MacPhail also educated the community with programs presented to area civic clubs, illustrated with photographs taken abroad.
Marion would never marry, but was always surrounded by youthful spirits in the form of the “Good Girls” from Hood. I also came across a mention that at least one summer (1950) she spent as a housemother for a camp in North Carolina.
Here are a few more articles found in Frederick papers and images from Hood yearbooks.
It appears that Miss MacPhail was extremely active in a group called the American Association of University Women, and was a member of the Frederick chapter. She held many positions including president, treasurer, membership chair and served as a delegate to national conferences.
Lastly, I found a few other tidbits on Miss Marion in the paper from her testimonial for the Knights of the Round Table motion picture starring Richard Burton, to an unfortunate hit and run fender bender a few blocks from school a few days before Christmas (my first I might add).
Professor MacPhail retired in 1966, and continued involvement in local Frederick activities and assisting the school that provided her with a career of 40 years. Interestingly, her replacement was Miss Charlotte Moran, who too, was a former graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont like her predecessor.
Marion Louise MacPhail would die in 1980, on the month that translates to “nine” on its 15th day. Ironically, I vividly remember what I was doing the previous month of October (1980) as a seventh grader. My Philadelphia Phillies won their first ever World Series.
Arrangements and a memorial service were handled by Robert E. Dailey & Sons Funeral Home, once located on N. Market Street, now home to the New York New York Hair Salon and Day Spa. The burial was said to be private, but as we can see, it never occurred. Interestingly, Marion L. MacPhail’s name, birth and death dates appear on a ground level cemetery marker in Charlotte, North Carolina’s Forest Lawn West Cemetery. You can also call up her memorial page on Findagrave.com. Was there a service there, just without the “guest of honor?”
So what happened? Or better yet, what didn’t happen? We may never know. She was the last of her immediate family. I just wonder if Marion desired to be buried in North Carolina, or if it was an assumption planned by her parents, but never followed through? Is she truly “Home for the Holidays?” As a language teacher, fluent in the Spanish language, and well-versed in the customs of Mexico like “The Day of the Dead,” perhaps we can get the answers by communing with Marion next November 1st—or 2nd. At least she is not in a file drawer or storage closet.
I do want to share the names of those in the Stauffer “Orphaned Cremains” crypt at the end of this story. I noted a few physicians within the group, and feature the obit of one of them here named Dr. Gilbert Max Schucht who seems to have had an interesting background.
I'm sure all are special in their own way, just like the 41,000 others interred here within "Frederick's Other City" as they used to call Mount Olivet. I will say that we have been able to remove a few cremains from the Stauffer crypt in an effort to give homes elsewhere on our grounds. Once such, John Thomas Pitts, was moved a few weeks ago upon the death of his mother. Both were buried next to his father in an old family plot located in area R/Lot 55. (As John Thomas Pitts' cremains were removed from the Stauffer crypt, I was afforded the opportunity (with access to the opened crypt) to photograph Marion MacPhail's cremains for use with this story.)
There is another story of "reuniting," while involving the Stauffer crypt inhabitants that I’m more familiar with. This was the case of Harry Edward Allan, Jr., who died in July of 2005.
Mr. Allen’s widow, Marie Angelina (Verona) Allen apparently never retrieved her husband from Dailey’s Funeral Home before her death in June of 2020 at the height of Covid-19 quarantine lockdown. She was in a nursing home and as was the case with so many people, communication and visitation opportunities were stifled by safety protocols. The Allens had four sons, two lived in Frederick, while the other two lived in Colorado and New York respectively. Plans now were discussed to take action with a cemetery, however a concrete timeline couldn’t be established because of the pandemic. Of course, Dad fell through the cracks years earlier, well not figuratively as he actually stayed intact throughout the move to Stauffer Funeral Home and storage therein at their location on Opossumtown Pike.
The story goes that one of these sons, Robert S. Allen of New York, took the initiative to take action on his father’s cremains as his mother’s would soon be in hand. However, he didn’t know where his father’s cremains were, assuming that his mother had retrieved them at the time of his death in 2005. Robert’s wife, Carolyn, conducted a search for her father-in-law’s mortal remains in late 2018. Her sleuthing eventually led to Stauffer, and ultimately to us in 2019. Plans were made for a double interment of Mr. and Mrs. Allen in our relatively new Cremation Garden feature located in Area TJ. In May of 2021, the cremains of the former husband and wife were given a proper sendoff and placement by the Allen brothers and other family and friends. (Note: since the service, son Harry E. Allen would pass and his cremains have been placed with his parents.)
I think its safe to assume that all these orphaned cremains are "home for the holidays." Consider the shelf for elves and other keepsakes, and not human cremains. Thank you Stauffer Funeral Home, Keeney & Basford, and those family members that have the "aha" moment to dignify decedents with reverent resting places.
Below is a list of those individuals whose cremains are in the Stauffer Crypt in Mount Olivet's Mausoleum Chapel. (Note: an asterisk marks removals to other parts of the cemetery). Please contact us if you have connection to any of these folks.
"We've got another holiday to worry about. It seems Thanksgiving Day is upon us." These were the words uttered by the immortal icon of my childhood and many others—Charlie Brown. Renowned cartoonist Charles M. Schulz gave us a classic work in his 1973 A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving that still holds its important message to this day nearly a half century after its first airing.
The day in question, one beloved by millions of Americans, and naturally despised by just as many turkeys, is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, but began as a state holiday rather than a federal one. Thanksgiving’s origins saw it as a day of celebrating the year’s harvest, with the theme of the holiday revolving around giving thanks and the centerpiece of celebrations being a Thanksgiving dinner.
Of course, the special dinner traditionally consists of foods and dishes indigenous to the Americas, namely turkey, potatoes (usually mashed or sweet), stuffing, squash, corn (maize), green beans, cranberries (typically in sauce form), and pumpkin pie. This is not exactly what Snoopy and Woodstock served up to Charlie Brown, Linus and other Peanuts characters in the 1973 classic, but what really are our expectations when at the mercy of animal chefs forced to utilize foods readily at their disposal including toast, popcorn, pretzels and jellybeans?
That clever cartoon special teaches a simple lesson that focuses on what the day (Thanksgiving) is truly about—who we spend Thanksgiving with is far more important than the quality, or amount, of the food we eat on Thanksgiving. Many of us don’t truly grasp this concept until we lose someone who had shared the holiday dinner table with us year after year, such as a grandparent, parent or sibling.
As many readers know, I spend a great deal of time in old newspapers in an effort to learn about the life and times of my subjects for these “Stories in Stone.” It’s sort of being like a time traveler, as I can see events from history playing out in real time, knowing of course how they end. I was searching through papers dating from the 1880s and found the passage above talking about Benjamin Franklin and his interest in origins of Thanksgiving.
Many may recall that Ben Franklin also had a fondness for wild turkeys, so much so he put forth the species nomination to become our national bird. Franklin praised the turkey as “a bird of courage” and a “true original native of America.” He also said it was a better representative of the new country than the bald eagle, which he called “a bird of bad moral character” that steals fish from hawks and “a rank coward” easily cowed by sparrows.
The Wikipedia explanation of Thanksgiving offers a summary stating that New England and Virginia colonists originally celebrated days of fasting, as well as days of thanksgiving, thanking God for blessings such as harvests, ship landings, military victories, or the end of a drought. These were observed through church services, accompanied with feasts and other communal gatherings.
The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This feast lasted three days and was attended by 90 Indians of the Wampanoag tribe and 53 Pilgrims (survivors of the Mayflower). Less widely known is an earlier Thanksgiving celebration in Virginia in 1619 by English settlers who had just landed at Berkeley Hundred aboard the ship Margaret.
Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally off and on since 1789, begun with a proclamation by President George Washington after a request by Congress. Apparently, President Thomas Jefferson chose not to observe the holiday, and its celebration was intermittent up through the 1850s.
Maryland began celebrating Thanksgiving as an official state holiday after Gov. Thomas Ligon’s proclamation of 1856. At this time, there were 17 states that followed the tradition at this level. That number would grow to 21 by the decade’s close. Mind you that there were only 33 states at that time.
The American Civil War soon followed, but President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” calling on the American people to also, "with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience ... fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation..." Lincoln declared that the special observance would occur on the last Thursday in November.
As I was searching through the newspapers of fall, 1883, I came across a later proclamation from a lesser-known president having sole discretion over dictating the date of the Thanksgiving holiday as Lincoln’s successors had before him. This was President Chester A. Arthur.
November 29th was a departure back to Lincoln’s spirit of the holiday being at the end of the month. In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant had moved the date to the third Thursday of November. Things got more serious as to the date when, in January of 1885, an act by Congress made Thanksgiving, and other federal holidays, a paid holiday for all federal workers throughout the United States. In 1942, while engaged in World War II, Thanksgiving received a permanent observation date as set by an act of Congress. Without the discretion or interference of the president, Thanksgiving was slated for the fourth Thursday in November. This holds true up through today.
The year 1883 was fairly, uneventful in the annals of US history. However, here in Frederick, something happened that was extremely “newsworthy.” This featured the emergence of a new newspaper offering, fittingly entitled “The News.” Founded by William T. Delaplaine, the Great Southern Printing and Manufacturing Company took responsibility for publishing this new paper which commenced on October 15th.
I purposely set out to glean any mentions of Thanksgiving tradition and happenings in our town in the Frederick Daily News’ first year. In addition to the two articles I’ve already shared involving Ben Franklin and Chester Arthur, I found a warning that the town market would be closed on Thanksgiving day so customers were warned to be proactive with obtaining their turkeys for dinner.
I also saw that the upstart publication made plans to give employees time off for the holiday, and told readers not to expect a Thanksgiving Day edition. As a former employee of the Great Southern Printing and Manufacturing Company, I can vouch for the support of employees in family endeavors, part of the corporate culture for the entirety of this company.
In that last edition (before the holiday) of November 29th, the paper included the following brief story of charity, and dare I say, benevolent assistance and giving to be thankful for.
I would love to know the name of the individual who donated 100 turkeys to the lesser-fortunate families of town. I searched, but did not have an outstanding candidate, however I would bet that we have a street or building in town today likely named for him.
What a great tale of charity, the essence of Thanksgiving. However, a few days earlier, I found a disappointing story of “Thanks-taking!” It involved the seemingly likeable turnpike tollgate operator John Nicholas Blum (which is spelled Nicolas on his gravestone) who resided at the time east of town on the National Pike (MD 144) on the western approach to the Jug Bridge that once spanned the Monocacy River.
This foul, or fowl, travesty was certainly not an exhibition of proper holiday decorum to say the least. The German immigrant and his family had not only lost their valuable poultry, but also the main course for Thanksgiving dinner.
I did get a good chuckle out of the way the article was written, but I’m sure it was not a laughing matter for Mr. Blum, who I would soon learn is buried here in Mount Olivet. So, I decided to explore his life further. Johann Nicholas Blum was born in Hanover, Germany in 1845. He can first be found living in Frederick in the 1870 US Census.
Here, at 25 years of age, Blum listed his occupation as that of a tailor, and was residing on the south side of West Patrick Street near its intersection with Jefferson Street. Here, he lived with wife Elizabeth (better known as “Elise”), in a house owned by Samuel Hafer, a carpenter who would later be very prominent in the annals of local cannery operations in town. Mrs. Blum was the former Elizabeth C. Biene, and hailed from Hesse Cassel (Germany). However, in this census, her next door neighbors appear to be Biene relatives (perhaps her sister and mother).
I deduct that these individuals had recently come to America. Perhaps John Nicholas Blum was the immigrant I found landing in Baltimore on February 16th, 1867 aboard a ship named Adolphine? The age, name and profession match perfectly, and the port of entry geography fits as well. Salzderhelden is given as the former home of the immigrant and this village is located close to Einbeck and 40 miles directly south of Hanover.
Nicholas and Elise were members of Frederick's German Reformed Church and would go on to have three daughters and a son through the decade: Louisa (1870-1930), George (1871-1872), Augusta (1874-1932), and Bertha (1876-1939). George would die as a toddler and was buried in Mount Olivet’s Area H/Lot 385.
Nicholas Blum did buy a lot on the north side of W. South St. in 1880 and sold it in 1884 to Annie F. Doll. He seems to have taken up residence at the toll house on the turnpike, scene of the great “Turkey Heist of ’83.” I found a few more mentions of Mr. Blum in relation to this property but soon he would be moving to a farm south of town along the Georgetown Pike.
The property that the Blums bought was a portion of the greater estate of Araby, noted property which was bought in 1864 by C. Keefer Thomas. This is the famous “Thomas Farm” associated with the Battle of Monocacy and currently owned by the National Park Service. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant would conduct a clandestine meeting here with Gen. Patrick Sheridan during the Civil War, shortly after the 1864 "Battle that Saved Washington"—but that is a story for another day.
The "Thomas Farm" stayed in the Thomas family until 1910. What the Blums had bought in 1884 was 31 acres, which Mr. Thomas had originally sold to Frances Albaugh in 1864, shortly after purchasing the entire farm. This property is now the subdivision called "Araby View" that surrounds Wallace Circle on the west side of Araby Church Road. It is located southeast of the Thomas Farm, across Baker Valley Road.
I learned little more about J. Nicolas Blum as he would die two years after purchasing the farm on February 14th, 1886.
John Nicholas Blum would be laid to rest next to his son George. I also realized that he only celebrated two more Thanksgivings after the event that triggered my interest in him.
Elise Blum inherited the Araby property from her deceased husband, but in 1899 sold it to her daughter Louisa, a teacher who graduated from Towson Normal School that year. She kept this until 1904. Elise moved back in town to Frederick at this time after buying what is today’s 266 Dill Avenue in the year 1908. Here she lived with her daughter Bertha until her own death in 1921. In 1920, Louisa and Bertha Blum, along with a man named George Caulk, bought what is now 6714 Jefferson Boulevard in Braddock Heights.
Louisa never married and died in 1930. Two years later, middle daughter Augusta (Blum) Carter, died as well on November 11th. She had been residing in Grove City, Pennsylvania. Her body would be brought back to the family plot for burial in Frederick as her funeral took place the week before Thanksgiving. I’m assuming that it was a particularly hard holiday for Bertha to experience without her sisters as she was the last surviving member of the family, losing Louisa and Augusta in that short span.
Sadly, Bertha would die six days after Thanksgiving on November 29th. She has no headstone, likely due to her being the last survivor of the immediate family with no one to make plans for her headstone
Let's end with that simple message from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving in that we shouldn't focus on what we are eating, but instead, be most thankful for those who we are spending the holiday with along with fond memories of the opportunities had in past years with those no longer with us. (You can thank me later turkeys).
Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and a huge thanks for the continued support of this blog along with the ongoing preservation and history efforts associated with our great cemetery.
Please remember the Mount Olivet Preservation and Enhancement Fund and Wreaths Across America on "Giving Tuesday." Click the button below for more information.
Accidents will happen, is an age-old saying usually uttered in an attempt to comfort someone after a mishap or setback has occurred. There was a motion picture starring Ronald Reagan that utilized this idiom as its title, and many of us, of a certain age, may recall the popular song by Elvis Costello and the Attractions from 1979.
Inevitable parts of life, most accidents are somewhat harmless in the bigger picture with a common case in point—the spilling of milk. Other accidents, such as the typical vehicular “fender bender” are certainly a bit more serious in nature, and usually cost participants money and inconvenience. However, there are more serious accidents which are devastating, and, dare I say, even deadly. I’m going to share three of the latter variety with you in this particular “Story in Stone,” but there are many more that can be talked about in context with our fair cemetery.
I was inspired to pursue this theme the other day when looking at a newspaper from November 16th, 1922. The newspaper included a front-page story involving a freak gun accident which turned fatal for a local farmer. This added to the tales of two other incidents (from later in that same decade) that have been ruminating in my head in recent weeks since talking about them on recent candlelight tours I gave.
(WARNING: I must add that the following stories with accompanying newspaper accounts will be quite unsettling, so please be forewarned as this is a heart-wrenching edition. )
Charles Keefer Summers
Even in Fall, one will find plenty of “Summers” here in Mount Olivet. We have two such individuals with this surname on our cemetery’s Board of Directors as well. The Summers in question here is a gentleman named Charles Keefer Summers, born in 1882. It appears that Mr. Summers was born and grew up in Yellow Springs area northwest of Frederick City. He was one of 10 children.
His father, Jacob Ezra Summers, bought a 62-acre farm in 1886, the current location being 6201 Ford Road, home to a dog kennel business. The Summers family would later own property along Yellow Springs Road, adjacent my old elementary school (today 8701A, 8701B and 8701C Yellow Springs Road). Charles Keefer acquired 8701C from his father in 1916. He built a sawmill on the property, a very useful thing to have since he owned a 16-acre woodlot in the vicinity of Spout Spring Road about two miles south.
Its not known how long Charles Keefer Summers lived here, as he would acquire a few different properties during his life. He bought a farm near a place called White Oak Springs in 1909 shortly after the birth of his daughter Ethel Mary. He had married Minnie Mae McGrew of Walkersville in 1905. He would go on to have two more children, Dorothy Mae Summers (1912-2000) and Charles Hammond Summers (1915-2007)
The Charles K. Summers residence was on the west side of New Design Road, south of Ballenger Creek and along White Oak Springs Road (which no longer exists but once ran along the south side of Ballenger Creek between New Design Road and Buckeystown Pike.) This property is now the Robin Meadows development. More recently known as the Griffin Farm, the nearby White Oak Springs to the northwest of the Summers property constitutes land within a housing community called the Enclave at Ballenger Run, located a few hundred yards east of Tuscarora High School.
Charles also bought what is now 407 and 409 Wilson Place in 1917. This was part of a new suburban development named Villa Estates. He would never live here, selling to a William Warfield in 1920, at which time the existing house was constructed. This may explain Charles’ occupation as listed as “contractor” in the 1920 US Census. These lots in Villa Estates were advertised as “little farms” and attractive opportunities to live in the city, while having the opportunity to grow your own garden and raise chickens.
“Keefer,” as he was more commonly known, would meet his early demise at his home near White Oak Springs. I’d like to remind you that this was purely by accident. The ill-fated day was that of November 15th, 1922. Here is the story that appeared in the Frederick News on November 16th.
Charles Keefer Summers body was laid to rest in Mount Olivet’s Area MM/Lot 81, not far from the grave of Gov. Thomas Johnson, Jr. Wife Minnie would remarry two more times. She appears to have rented the property near White Oak Springs until 1933, at which time she sold the property. Minnie died in 1960.
Austin Z. McDevitt
Down the hill and to the east of Charles and Minnie Summers gravesite is that of Austin Zimmerman McDevitt in Area OO/Lot 130. Here we have the victim of another accidental death, which claimed the life of a gentleman only 37 years old.
In the annals of history, 1929 was not the greatest of years anyway. Although it started well, you may recall “the Great Crash” which had nothing to do with automobiles, but everything to do with Wall Street as this was the legendary stock market crash that occurred in the autumn of that year. It started in September and ended late in October, when share prices on the New York Stock Exchange collapsed and sparked the following decade and an era coined “The Great Depression.”
Austin Zimmerman McDevitt was born October 15th, 1892. He was the son of John Edward McDevitt (1851-1919) and wife, Rebecca Jane Zimmerman (1852-1901). The family lived in Charlesville, directly north of Frederick, near Lewistown. Austin was the fourth of four children.
Sadly, Austin would experience great loss in his life. His mother passed when he was 9 years old. He married Eleanor May Riggs in 1916, and the couple had a daughter, Lulu May in 1918. In the next two years, our subject would lose both his infant daughter and young wife. Lulu passed at eight months of age of pneumonia and Eleanor died in the State sanitarium at Sabillasville of tuberculosis at the age of 24.
Austin would marry again in late 1920, this time to Naomi V. Baugher. The couple would have five children and resided at 246 West 5th Street in Frederick City.
Mr. McDevitt worked for the Walker Hill Dairy located on B&O Avenue in the southeast part of Frederick. This operation was begun by William A. Simpson (1864-1948), who had bought properties at G Street in southeast Washington, D.C. around 1900, and expanded the stables from his Walker Hill Dairy, which delivered Frederick County, Maryland, milk to area doorsteps until 1929. I presume that the Frederick division hailed from the White Cross Milk operation.
Our subject here was a deliveryman, himself. Sadly, Austin Zimmerman McDevitt’s life of love and loss would come to an abrupt close in the early morning hours of December 21st.
Austin Z. McDevitt would be buried on December 23rd in the same plot he had buried his wife and daughter years before.
On Christmas Eve, 1929, Naomi McDevitt found herself a grieving widow with five children. A terrible accident had changed the upward trajectory of a young family. While conducting research on the McDevitts, I also learned that Christmas Eve, 1929 marked misfortune for the White House down the road in Washington, DC. A children’s Christmas party held by President Herbert Hoover and attended by aides and friends was suddenly disrupted by a fire that would rage in the presidential residence’s West Wing executive offices. Despite the four-alarmer bringing some 130 firefighters to the White House, the children were never aware. The press room was destroyed, and the offices suffered substantial damage. However, the fire was out by 10:30 p.m.
I’ve included a clipping from the Frederick Post from December 26th, 1929, along with a link to a short video produced by the White House Historical Association.
While the White House would make a full recovery over coming months into 1930, things would get progressively worse for the family of Austin Z. McDevitt. Naomi McDevitt would die suddenly of a heart attack in 1931.
The orphaned children had lost both parents in tragic manner. I am assuming they would be raised by relatives, and learned that at least one, John William McDevitt would attend the Buckingham School for Boys in Buckeystown, as I would think that his brother Austin Zimmerman McDevitt, Jr. would as well.
I know of John’s fate because he is buried beside his mother and within a few yards of his father in Area OO/Lot 130. This veteran of the US Navy would sadly, like his father, lose his life due to a freak accident while in the line of duty. He was only 20 years of age.
When I ventured to the gravesite to take pictures for this story, it gave me great pleasure to see that John W. McDevitt’s grave was marked with a flag for Veterans Day. I also took pause to think that on the 93rd anniversary of his father’s unfortunate death, and 79 years after his own, John William McDevitt will have a wreath on his grave courtesy of our annual Wreaths Across America program.
The months of January, February and March of 1930 found the McDeVitt family reeling, and President Hoover utilizing a makeshift office. The latter would not move back into the West Wing until mid-April, at which time we had a local family and an entire community in shock over one of the worst accidents in Frederick's history—one in which four young children would die as a result. This event not only made front page news locally and regionally, but it was covered in publications across the country.
A fight between a married couple originating in Montgomery County led to a series of events resulting in fatal consequences. It was the mother of all accidents, and exemplified the height of just how tragic and disturbing a mishap could be. It didn't involve a weapon, as we saw earlier in the case of Charles Keefer Summers, or vehicles (truck/airplane) as witnessed in the deaths of Austin McDeVitt and son John William. No, it was a typical household appliance that is better known for aiding life with food preparation, instead of impacting, or heaven forbid, taking life away. The fateful day in this case was Thursday, March 27th.
To summarize, Mrs. Carol LaRue Shields came to Frederick to confer with her sister after having a fight with her husband Lester at their home in Boyds (Montgomery County). Mr. Shields was a former veteran of World War I, who served with Company K of the 29th Division in France. He worked as a farm laborer.
Mrs. Shields was a mother of four at the time, and had traveled to Frederick to see her sister (Elsie Bussard) to receive support for her most recent altercation with Lester. Elsie not being home at the time precipitated Mrs. Shields to seek a neighbor to tell of her trouble with her husband. Thinking the children would be alright unsupervised for a short amount of time, Mrs. Shields made "the accident of her lifetime" as the children did the unthinkable.
The Shields had already lost two infants in 1920 and 1924. These were buried in a Shields family lot in Area B/Lot 70. Upon visiting, I could not find these children as "names in stone," as their graves remain unmarked. As for the Shields as a couple with severe issues, they had lost all their children in an instant. With some additional research, we found that the true address of the Bussard residence is today's 612 Trail Avenue, directly across the street from the hospital.
An excruciating story, one that certainly got more than its proper share of coverage. In mid April, census records show me that Mr. and Mrs. Shields estranged with Lester Shields living with his brother in Clarksville. They would divorce and I found that Lester would remarry (Maggie Geneva (King) Sheckels) and live in Montgomery County until his death in 1964. The couple are buried at Parklawn Memorial Park in Rockville.
I could not find Carol LaRue Shields in that census of 1930. She would remarry, however, seven years later in February, 1937. Her marriage to Robert D. Dickinson would only last for just over four years as Carol died in June, 1941. She is buried in the Norris family plot at Monocacy Cemetery in Beallsville, Montgomery County.
The six children of Lester and Carol Shields are buried in Area B, all without tombstones. They are surrounded by Shields family members of earlier generations.
Accidents can be quite terrible things. They will happen yes, but they can also be avoided in some cases as well if caution and proactive thinking is considered at all times. God bless those mentioned in this unsettling story, as lives certainly did not get the chance to be lived to the fullest in all circumstances.
Veterans Day weekend and thousands of flags are gently blowing in the breeze here in Mount Olivet Cemetery. These were placed on the graves of former military personnel last Saturday November 5th by hundreds of volunteers, both young and old. The Veterans Day holiday, itself, is recognized on November 11th each year, symbolic as the date when World War I officially ended in 1918. For over a century, November 11th has been a national holiday in France, and was declared a national holiday in many Allied nations. However, many Western countries and associated nations have since changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day, with member states of the Commonwealth of Nations adopting Remembrance Day, and the United States government opting for Veterans Day.
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ended. At 5 am. that morning, Germany, lacking manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. World War I left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.
Twelve Frederick boys, buried in Mount Olivet, died while engaged in active duty. I’ve written previous stories about each of these individuals. 600 other veterans, including four known women, joined their comrades here when their lives on earth came to fruition.
As part of the ceremony, we acknowledged 11 knockout roses which were planted on the perimeter of the gazebo as part of a Never Forget Garden. This idea “germinated” from Arlington Cemetery through an initiative started in 2018. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Never Forget Garden is a nationwide invitation to all Americans and freedom loving people to plant gardens as a visual way to represent America’s unwavering commitment to our sacred duty to recognize, remember, and honor our veterans, many who continued to serve as first responders, and their families now and for many years to come. There are many ways and traditions that are available to express patriotism, love, mourning and remembrance.
The Never Forget Garden Marker, designed in collaboration with the artists at Carruth Studio, was inspired by the sacred duty of the American people to never, ever forget or forsake all those who have served and sacrificed on behalf of America in times of war or armed conflict. Its message beckons the visitor "to pause in this special place, and with a quiet soul open your heart to allow these plantings to speak; to reflect upon the deeds of those who we owe a debt that can never be fully repaid; and to think about those immutable truths that define us as Americans secured by their full measure of devotion."
Occasioned by the Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a Never Forget Garden and this marker are intended to be a place to remember, to honor, and to teach. It is a place of remembrance and renewal of our commitment to the living, the dead, and those yet to serve our Country.
We originally scheduled our dedication event for October 1st but it was postponed to month’s end due to rain, the remnants of Hurricane Ian which did a number on western Florida. On our second try, we had perfect weather, and an equally nice ceremony to go with it. The late October event featured a few highly talented speakers. One of which was Richard Azzaro, a former guard of the Tomb of the Unknown soldier from March 1963-April 1965. Mr. Azzaro is co-founder of the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and served as the organization’s inaugural Vice President and later as President. He is the current director of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Never Forget Garden Committee. He was joined by Chaplain Charles J. Shacochis, Jr., who also served as part of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honor guard from February 1965 until February 1967.
These gentlemen explained that the recent Centennial of World War I was not only a celebration to remember the burial of the World War I Unknown Soldier, but an opportunity to reflect on what the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier means to America. The legislation that created the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, written by Congressman Hamilton Fish, viewed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a focal point to bring all Americans together—that its meaning be not limited to the Great War and the exclusive claim of that War’s veterans.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington is an American symbol of remembrance that has a connection to an organization to Le Souvenir Francais. In 1887 this organization began in northern France in an area known as Alsace-Lorraine that was claimed by Prussia after the War of 1870. To remember French soldiers who had died fighting Prussian (German) soldiers, young French girls placed flowers and tri-color cockades of the French flag on the tombstones of these departed warriors despite the orders of Prussian officials who occupied Alsace-Lorraine not to decorate the graves.
A professor from the area, Xavier Niessen organized the Le Souvenir Francais to honor these dead soldiers. As word spread throughout France, a swell of patriotism grew. On March 7, 1887 Professor Niessen petitioned the French government to join Le Souvenir Francais and they did. Up until 1914 and the start of Great War, Le Souvenir Francais created monuments and participated in ceremonies across France honoring war dead. In 1914 the organization began affixing tricolor cockades on tombstones of France’s dead near hospitals and cemeteries.
Following the end of World War I, Le Souvenir Francais was unable to access the graves of the dead still on French battlefields. The government was concerned about the spread of disease, unexploded ordnance and other hazards. Around the 1st of November, All Saints Day, ceremonies were organized away from the battlefields to place flowers on graves and help bereaved families. It was during one of these ceremonies that Francis Simon asked the French government to transfer the body of an Unknown French Soldier from the battlefield to Paris.
The commanding general of American forces in France, Brigadier General William D. Connor, learned of the French project while it was still in the planning stage. Favorably impressed, he proposed a similar American project to the Army Chief of Staff, General Peyton C. March, on October 29, 1919.
Gen. March ultimately did not approve Gen. Connor's proposal. Mrs. M. M. Melony, editor of the Delineator, made a similar suggestion to Gen. March. In his reply Gen. March explained to Mrs. Melony that while the French and English had many unknown dead, it appeared possible that the Army Graves Registration Service eventually would identify all American dead. Furthermore, the United States had no burial place for a fallen hero similar to Westminster Abbey or the Arc de Triumphe. In any case, March pointed out, the matter was one for Congress to decide.
On December 21st, 1920, Congressman Hamilton Fish, III of New York introduced a resolution calling for the return to the United States of an unknown American member of the overseas Expeditionary Force killed in combat in France and his burial with appropriate ceremonies in a tomb to be constructed at the recently built Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery.
The measure was approved on March 4th, 1921 as Public Resolution 67 of the 66th Congress. Fish had originally intended for the ceremony to take place on Memorial Day 1921 but it was too late for that date. Then on October 20, 1921, Congress declared November 11th, 1921 a legal holiday to honor all those who participated in World War I; an elaborate ceremony in Washington would pay tribute to the symbolic unknown soldier.
On September 9th, 1921 the Quartermaster General received orders from the War Department to select an unknown soldier from those buried in France. Following the selection ceremony, he was to deliver the body to Le Havre, where the Navy would receive it for transportation to the United States. The necessary arrangements were completed by the Quartermaster Corps in France in cooperation with French and U.S. Navy authorities. According to plans, the selection ceremony was to take place at Chalons-sur-Marne, ninety miles east of Paris, on October 24th, 1921.
The honor of making the selection went to Sergeant Edward F. Younger, a decorated World War I veteran sent from his posting in Germany to support the selection ceremony. To indicate his choice of the Unknown Soldier, Younger placed a spray of white roses upon one of four caskets that contained the remains of unidentified American service members. These roses held deep meaning. They were donated by Brasseur Brulfer, a former member of the Châlons City Council who lost two sons in the war, including one whose remains were never identified—just like the American Unknown being honored that day. Grown in the earth of France, these roses formed a tangible connection between the American Unknown, the unknown dead of France and the French nation itself.
After the selection ceremony, the roses were placed on top of the flag-draped casket of the newly designated Unknown Soldier. Various sources, images and motion picture footage indicate that the roses from the selection travelled with the Unknown through many stages of his journey back to the United States, and may have been buried with him inside the Tomb. In the years after 1921, the white rose came to symbolize the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. To this day, it is frequently used in commemorations related to the Tomb, such as a recent ceremony at Sgt. Younger’s grave on October 24th, 1921, to mark the 100th anniversary of the selection.
Mr. Azzaro wrapped up his comments by placing a bouquet of white roses on our Never Forget Garden marker. Additional remarks were given by Corey Campion, Associate Professor of History and Global Studies Program Director, Master's in Humanities and Chair, Dept. of History. Corey has conducted much research on World War I, which has culminated in him co-authoring a book with teaching colleague Trevor Dodman (also of Hood College), creating a curriculum to instruct educators and leading a tour a few years back to the former battlefields of France.
Corey spoke to the importance of remembering not only the war dead, but also the veterans of any and all military conflicts. He referenced the Victory monument in Frederick’s Memorial Park, site of the annual Veterans Day program, along with other such sites in the county such as the Doughboy Memorial in Emmitsburg, Middletown's Memorial Hall and the William Bunke Memorial in Libertytown’s St. Peter’s Catholic Cemetery. Now our Mount Olivet World War I Memorial Gazebo joins that esteemed collection.
Professor Campion took the opportunity to continue on the theme of flowers representing life, yet connecting to battlefield sacrifice as our earlier speakers had explained the importance of white roses in Mount Olivet’s Never Forget Garden. He spoke on the symbolism behind the red poppy flower and read the epic poem “In Flanders Fields.”
The opening lines of this work refer to poppies growing among the graves of war victims in a region of Belgium. The poem is written from the point of view of the fallen soldiers and in its last verse, the soldiers call on the living to continue the conflict. The poem was written by Canadian physician John McCrae on May 3rd, 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend and fellow soldier the day before. The poem was first published on December 8th, 1915 in the London-based magazine Punch.
Moina Michael, who had taken leave from her professorship at the University of Georgia to be a volunteer worker for the American YMCA Overseas War Secretaries Organization, was inspired by the poem. She published a poem of her own called "We Shall Keep the Faith" in 1918. In tribute to McCrae's poem, she vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who fought in and assisted with the war. At a November 1918 YMCA Overseas War Secretaries' conference, she appeared with a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed twenty-five more poppies to attendees. She then campaigned to have the poppy adopted as a national symbol of remembrance.
At the conclusion of our Mount Olivet Gazebo ceremony, we invited participants and onlookers in helping us spread red poppy seeds around the gazebo to further enhance our Never Forget Garden. We may not have poppies springing up in all other areas in our cemetery, but the flags (I referenced at the beginning) in a way represent the beautiful red flowers of Flanders Fields and battlefields everywhere our ancestors toiled. Thank you again to the volunteers who help us place these in advance of both Veterans Day and Memorial Day as its a big project. In five weeks on Wreaths Across America Day, these gravesites will also be covered with wreaths of evergreen symbolizing HONOR, RESPECT, and VICTORY.
While on the subject of flowers, I can’t help but think of seeds and seasons. Of course, I could wax poetic for hours about the symbolism of both flowers and seasons and their relationship to life and death. One of the greatest principles in life is the concept of sowing seeds. This teaches us that if we give something, we can receive something in return. If we plant something in the proper conditions, water, feed and grow it, we can reap something bigger and greater.
On Veterans Day, we honor all current and former members of the Armed Services. Our country's greatness is built on the foundation of your courage and sacrifice. Veterans Day calls out the sacrifices made by all service members in their decision to protect our freedoms by pledging their time, efforts, energies and expertise in addition to their lives.
Mr. Seed Control
With the flow of this story, it is obvious to me that at least one Mount Olivet veteran, in particular, needs to be recognized this Veterans Day weekend. He was a Frederick native and veteran of World War I, but of greater intrigue, his nickname was “Mr. Seed Control.”
His name was Leslie Edward Bopst, a peculiar name, to go along with an even more peculiar nickname. There are 49 people with the Bopst moniker resting here in Mount Olivet, and I’m told the name is pronounced with a long O sounding similar to boast, but with a “p” sandwiched in the middle of that one-syllable word.
Born January 3rd, 1894 to William Mortimer Bopst and Anna Mary (Brunner), Leslie spent his childhood at 8 East 8th Street on the outskirts of downtown Frederick in the early 20th century. His father started the Excelsior Dairy and ran the operation until 1920 at which time he sold it to Charles F. Rothenhoefer.
Leslie had three sisters and was educated in local schools. He was a 1913 graduate of nearby Frederick Boys’ High School under the watchful eye of Professor Amon Burgee. Bopst busied himself with athletics and served as president of the Belles Lettres Literary Society. Fittingly, he also had charge of his high school’s floral committee.
Leslie Bopst would go on to further his education at the Maryland Agricultural College, later to be known as the University of Maryland. He would graduate in 1916. While in school, Leslie, or Les as he was more commonly called, partook in athletics for the M. A. C. The Reveille yearbook of 1916 includes a picture of him as a senior, and another as a member of the college’s baseball team.
The yearbook also makes mention of him having the rank of 1st Lt. in Company A. I believe this to be the college's Company A of an ROTC program as opposed to Frederick’s unit in the Maryland National Guard, which had its home at the former armory building standing on the southwest corner of N. Bentz and W. 2nd streets across from Memorial Park. Les would formally enlist in the US Army on September 27th, 1917. At this time, he found himself as a private in the 154th Depot Brigade. Twelve days later he was transferred to Company I of the 313th Infantry Regiment.
Bopst would receive a promotion to the rank of corporal five weeks later. The following year, Les would be transferred on April 12th to a unique new wing of the United States Army. This was the Battalion Research Division of Chemical Warfare Service. The Great War was the first to utilize deadly and debilitating gasses thus necessitating such a division. Bopst would not be sent overseas to France, but would be based in Washington, DC. He would attain the rank of corporal for this entity one week before the end of the war, and would be honorably discharged one month later on December 10th, 1918.
After completing his military service, Les embarked on a five-year career with the Department of Agriculture in seed chemistry. I found Les Bopst in the 1920 census living in an apartment building located on P Street in the nations capital. In this record, his occupation was listed as chemist, and his place of employment was labeled “private concern.” By 1922, his workplace would be the Maryland Agricultural College at today’s College Park. He joined the staff of inspection service at his alma mater as a chemist in charge of seeds with fertilizer and lime to fall under his purview shortly thereafter.
On September 19th, 1923, our subject was a resident of Bethesda (MD) and married a fellow Bethesdan by the name of Myrtle R. Rabbitt. They would raise two daughters into adulthood.
In 1928, Les would be named associate state chemist after spending a number of years as assistant state chemist.
While a faculty member at the college, he naturally taught chemistry. I also learned that he was an advisor to Sigma Nu fraternity, and also coached the college’s tennis team.
In 1944, Les Bopst was named state chemist, a position he would hold until his retirement 18 years later in 1962. His career at the college spanned 40 years.
Bopst spent his remaining years as a corporate consultant, and remained active with Rotary and the College Park Club of which he was a charter member. He and Myrtle lived in the College Park-Hyattsville area and doted on the seeds of their personal life, two daughters and five grandchildren.
Leslie E. Bopst died on December 20th, 1968. He would be buried in Area L/Lot 160, located behind our Key Memorial Chapel, along the drive that leads west to Confederate Row. Wife Myrtle would join him here in late May of 1990.
Our last phase of the World War I Memorial Gazebo includes necessary fundraising for the addition of three, tabletop-style interpretive exhibits to be placed around the structure. These will tell the stories of the Never Forget Garden and Memorial Gazebo, along with highlighting the lives of some of the WW I veterans buried here, including individuals killed on the battlefield and others who fell victim to the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Please help us if you can.
There is a fine, large monument in Mount Olivet’s Area D whose owner can certainly be considered an eyewitness to history. As a matter of fact, he and his family had, what you would call, “a front row seat” (or at worst, balcony seats) to a major moment in Frederick, Maryland’s magnificent history. His name was Jacob Leilich, and his resting spot is along the east side of the cemetery’s central driveway where he is buried with his wife Chatarina.
The Leilichs were not alone in their memorable observance on the late afternoon of Saturday, October 4th, 1862. Several members of the town’s citizenry were also on hand for an impromptu speech given at the old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s passenger station at the corner of East All Saints and South Market streets. The oratory was made by our legendary 16th President of the United States—Abraham Lincoln.
One of the most interesting aspects of this experience for Mr. Leilich (and his family) comes in the fact that he never had to leave his home—the oratory came from the back of a train car that was parked right outside his window. The Leilichs lived in the building directly across East All Saints Street from the train station, today the home of Downtown Piano Works (74 South Market Street).
The former train station is better known as the Frederick Community Action Agency, home of the Frederick City Food Bank. The Leilichs operated a hotel and grocery store as part of their spacious home which stretched down East All Saints Street. I know from researching/writing other stories that the neighboring house to the north on South Market was home to Jacob Haller’s Tavern, a popular oyster saloon for many years, conveniently located across from the United Fire Company (which still operates to this day.)
First off, I’d like to talk about President Lincoln’s speech and what brought him to Frederick in early October of 1862. We will conclude with a look at Jacob Leilich and his family.
Exactly one month earlier, Frederick County found itself at the hands of what many townspeople thought were invaders. Others, however, saw these men as liberators. Either way, the soldiers of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had crossed the Potomac into Maryland after a successful late August victory in the Second Battle of Manassas, also known as the Second Battle of Bull Run. Frederick would be the first, major northern (or Union) town that Lee would bring his Confederate Army.
Those students of Civil War history (among you) know that the occupation of Frederick lasted almost a week until Lee made a move west. The Union Army of the Potomac, under Gen. George B. McClellan, headed north toward Frederick out of Washington, DC in pursuit of the Rebels. After the supposed flag-waving episode of Barbara Fritchie (September 10th, 1862), the Confederate Army continued west on the old National Pike, making use of today’s Alternate US 40 over Braddock Mountain, through Middletown and across South Mountain. Here the armies would engage one another on September 14th in the Battle of South Mountain.
Three days later on September 17th, both sides squared off outside the small town of Sharpsburg in the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. This conflict was deemed a Union victory and helped set the stage for President Lincoln to issue the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. My friend, and fellow historian, Dennis Frye gives great context to this episode in American Civil War history in Maryland’s Heart of the Civil War: A Collection of Commentaries.
(The written transcript is below)
(DENNIS FRYE) Abraham Lincoln had a great victory given to him by the Army of Potomac; keep in mind that when September begins the Confederate Army is invading Maryland. Lee's compass is pointed towards the Mason-Dixon Line and he has every intention of crossing it and moving towards the Susquehanna River. Now, here we are the 1st of October, the Confederate Army has been defeated, Maryland is safe, Pennsylvania is secure, Lincoln has issued his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, it was one of the most extraordinary months, turnarounds of the war for the Lincoln administration. So the president wanted to come out and congratulate the men that gave him and the United States this great victory. So on the 1st of October, he gets on the B&O train, first comes to Harpers Ferry, meets the troops, greets the troops, inspects the troops at Harpers Ferry and then comes to Sharpsburg.
He establishes his home with McClellan at McClellan's headquarters at the Showman home just south of Burnside Bridge and there he will meet with McClellan, he will talk about what the Army had accomplished, what the future should be, and even had his own ideas for the campaign. Lincoln always had his own ideas, and he and McClellan talk about what the next step will be.
Well, as so often was the case, Lincoln and McClellan did not agree. McClellan intended to utilize the Shenandoah Valley as the base of operations. The president said, no, we're going to go east to the Blue Ridge and move back towards Richmond, huge debate, complete disagreement. But in the meantime, the president would go out, review the troops, complement them, praise them and really feel that this army had matured into an army that could truly give him victory and he had proven it on the banks of the Antietam Creek.
Well, after the meetings were completed, and they never did come to an agreement on what their future would be, the president would leave via Keedysville, Boonsboro, South Mountain. He would actually cross the mountain and see part of the South Mountain battlefield. So he didn't just visit Antietam, but he actually visited three battlefields on this trip, Harpers Ferry where his forces did not succeed, of course there at Antietam where he visited famous landmarks like the Burnside Bridge, and then on his way back he went via Boonsboro and South Mountain and then Middletown and ultimately to Frederick.
And when he arrived at Frederick there was a train there awaiting to take him back to Washington. And there was a throng, a huge crowd there to greet the president. And the president didn't really like to give “just off-the-top” speeches but the demand was great, they wanted to hear from the president. And so there at the train station at Frederick, he stood on the back of his car, the presidential car, and made a little speech to the citizens of Frederick. They were happy with it. The speech didn't say much, but it was a very nice little speech, the president of the United States in Frederick speaking to those Union citizens who in their mind had stood up against the tyranny of the rebels. And with that off he went back towards Washington.
From Sharpsburg, President Lincoln would travel to Frederick City where he received an enthusiastic welcome complete with “signal guns and a parade.” Arriving around 5:00pm, Lincoln visited Brig. Gen. George L. Hartsuff of Michigan, who was injured in the morning phase of the battle at Antietam. Hartsuff was recuperating in the home of Mrs. Eleanor Tyler Ramsey, a short distance from the town’s courthouse square. After visiting the general, Lincoln gave a brief impromptu speech to a group assembled outside the Ramsey House, then made his way to Frederick’s B&O train station for the return trip to Washington. When he arrived at the station, the president found himself surrounded by a large crowd of citizens, soldiers and free blacks.
We are very lucky to have a depiction of this event from the exact period. It was sketched by Mr. Hamilton, a Civil War sketch artist for the newspapers of the day. The lithograph appeared in the October 25th, 1862 edition of Harper’s Weekly newspaper.
The newspaper also provided the following text to describe the image, along with a transcript of the president’s speech:
THE PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO McCLELLAN'S ARMY.
We publish on page 684 an illustration of the President's visit to Frederick. His journey through Maryland was one continuous and triumphant ovation, and will have the effect not only of teaching the rebels how little they gained by their last raid upon the affections of "My Maryland," but of convincing Northern traitors that henceforth we may count her as irrevocably fixed to the Union.
A vast concourse of people had assembled at the railway station at Frederick; and the President had no sooner got away from those who rushed to shake hands with him, and reached the train, than loud cries brought him to the platform of the rear carriage, to show himself and speak to his friends. This is the moment seized upon and illustrated by our artist. The President, in a clear voice, and with that honest, good-natured manner for which he is so noted, spoke as follows:
(Written transcript included below)
“Fellow Citizens: I see myself surrounded by soldiers, and a little further off I note the citizens of this good city of Frederick, anxious to hear something from me. I can only say, as I did five minutes ago, it is not proper for me to make speeches in my present position. I return thanks to our soldiers for the good service they have rendered, for the energies they have shown, the hardships they have endured, and the blood they have so nobly shed for this dear Union of ours; and I also return thanks not only to the soldiers, but to the good citizens of Maryland, and to all the good men and women in this land, for their devotion to our glorious cause. I say this without any malice in my heart to those who have done otherwise. May our children and our children's children to a thousand generations, continue to enjoy the benefits conferred upon us by a united country, and have cause yet to rejoice under those glorious institutions bequeathed us by Washington and his compeers. Now, my friends, soldiers and citizens, I can only say once more, farewell.”
October 4, 1862
I have a framed, original copy of this lithograph from an old Harper’s Weekly edition. Mine is even hand-colored and I have hanging in my office. The Lincoln speech event of 1862 is especially near and dear to my heart because I helped organize a re-enactment of it back on October 4th, 2012. This was the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s legendary visit to Frederick. Our Lincoln portrayer that day was James Hayney of Camp Hill, PA.
The day culminated with the official unveiling of the Downtown Frederick Heritage Trail Marker System. One marker commemorates Lincoln's 1862 visit and was placed in front of the Leilich former home. As an aside, before our downtown event at the old train station, Mr. Hayney (as Lincoln) entertained schoolchildren at Lincoln Elementary School a few blocks to the south. Interestingly, the Leilich gravesite affords a view of this school.
One day, I looked at the lithograph very closely, scouring the individuals depicted in Lincoln’s audience. My eye wandered over to the building sketched on the far left and saw that the artist had included a sign over the door fronting on South Market Street. It reads: Groceries J. Leslich. It should read Leilich, but it was either misspelled by accident, or by design. From there I did my research, and here we are a few years later.
One more thing, I will kindly draw your attention to in respect to this particular art piece, is the presence of individuals by the Leilich’s front door and, moreso, people visible in the upstairs window. Were any of these folks Jacob, Chatarina or, more likely, the Leilich children? We may never know, but I guarantee that you will never look at this particular lithograph quite the same when you see it again!
First off, you may be interested to know that the name Leilich is German in origin, and constitutes the 1,052,587th most common surname in the world at the time of our publishing. I couldn’t find a meaning for the name. The Leilich monument in Area D is pretty impressive and among the largest of the section. It is also educational, including brief biographies on both Jacob, and wife Chatarina (Blumenauer) Leilich.
“To the memory of Jacob Leilich Born October 5th, 1809 Departed this life July 16, 1870. Aged 60 years 9 mos. & 9 days. The deceased was born in Schaafheim, Kris Bezirk Dieburg Broszherzogthum Hessen Darmstadt Germany and came to this Country Aug. 18, 1831."
"To the memory of Chatarina Leilich Wife of Jacob Leilich Departed this life May 15, 1866 Aged 53 years 10 mos. & 20 days. The deceased was born in Wolfersheim Koenigsreich Bayern, Rhein Kreis Zweybruecken Germany and with her parents came to this country in 1837. Rest in peace, Mother."
I’m not certain as to the exact year Jacob Leilich came to Frederick, but it was between 1831-1834 because he married Chatarina here on April 19th, 1834. From 1835-1859, Leilich owned the property on the west side of South Market Street that is now 75-77 South Market. He had a blacksmith shop there. Leilich bought the 72-76 South Market property in 1845 from Capt. Henry Jefferson Walling, a popular passenger train conductor for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. You may recall the surname as Henry’s son, “Uncle Joe” Walling was a subject of an earlier “Story in Stone.” Let’s just say that unlike his father who preferred train travel, Joe preferred walking.
Jacob Leilich was bonded to the Levy Court as the "Standard Keeper of Weights and Measures" for the county in 1851. In addition to being a businessman, I found newspaper articles showing his connections to civic activities. He was an active parishioner of Evangelical Lutheran Church and a member of the United Fire Company. Perhaps he could have been with the Uniteds (militia) unit in October 1859 when they were among the first responders to Harpers Ferry for John Brown’s ill-fated insurrection attempt? I saw mention that Jacob also catered big events for his fire company, among others.
Mr. Leilich indulged himself in local politics as a proud Democrat, and I saw many ads in local newspapers which had him running for various city offices such as town council and the Board of Aldermen. One of the articles talked about his dislike of the Know-Nothing (aka American) Party who were certainly not fond of immigrants. Leilich was slandered for his German heritage.
(NOTE: The sentences in German translate roughly to "our German friend from over the Rhine. He likes sauerkraut but not lager beer and pretzels.")
As with the hotel-based taverns of the day, these places were often locations of public auctions as they had the accommodations to hold larger public gatherings. Hoteliers, like Jacob Leilich, frequently appeared as trustees for many of these.
The most detailed article I uncovered regarding Mr. Leilich chronicled a terrible accident involving train travel and a daring escape in which injuries were sustained. This occurred in August, 1858.
The Civil War came to Frederick in so many ways, and it also came to the Leilich’s home—literally and figuratively. Jacob made a recovery at home, but he wasn’t the only one who convalesced at the one-time hotel located on the northeast corner of South Market and East All Saints streets. A unique news article comes from July 1861 when a Union soldier from Easton, Pennsylvania attempted to recover from an illness at the Leilich hotel.
I’m assuming that Jacob was a Union supporter, which I’m sure would have been comforting to Private Lerch. Apparently, the hotel had a reputation as a hangout for Union officers and soldiers. This fact could have also led to the location being chosen as the headquarters for the Grand National Guard, Major Gen. Hancock’s First Grand Army Corps of Veterans.
As proxies of history for us living today, I wonder how the Leilich family took the news of President Lincoln’s assassination in April, 1865? A candlelight procession of respect was conducted by Mayor (and famed diarist) Jacob Engelbrecht. I’m sure the Leilichs participated.
Two significant things happened to Mr. Leilich after the war. His wife of 32 years passed in 1866. A year later, he was offering "stud services" via his horse "Landay." Here is newspaper proof to both of these things.
Jacob Leilich continued the hotel as can be witnessed by a newspaper advertisement placed in the local newspaper by a sewing machine salesman who had taken temporary residence in 1867. He also continued his work on behalf of local politics.
The 1870 US Census shows “Leilich’s Hotel” still serving home to now widower Jacob Leilich, and four out of five of his children and extended family. In addition, there are three other boarders listed. Three of the Leilich girls would marry. Two of which Anna M. (Leilich) Dayhoff (1836-1888) and Maria L. (Leilich) Burke (1841-1880) are buried here in this plot, along with unmarried Catharine “Kitty” Elizabeth Leilich (1837-1920). The remaining sister, Louisa L. (Leilich) Rollins (1843-?) married a Union soldier from Wisconsin during the Civil War and eventually moved west to Iowa. The Leilichs’ only son, John Jacob, is also buried here (1849-1873) and his name adorns the southside of the large monument.
Jacob Lielich died on July 16th, 1870. His robust obituary appeared in the Maryland Union newspaper a day later. He would be laid to rest in the family plot next to his wife.
As for the old “Leilich Hotel,” it was sold to Robert Lease in 1874. The property had been advertised for public sale several times following Leilich's death, but one of the executors died and authorization for the other executor was revoked so a new executor had to be appointed by the Orphans Court, hence the delay.
Looking at the bigger picture, Frederick County and City remain an incredible case study in Black history. Along with an audience which included freeman and slaves, Jacob Leilich watched as Abraham Lincoln, known later as “The Great Emancipator,” gave a brief speech on East All Saints Street on October 4th, 1862. This neighborhood would become the hub of Frederick’s Black community in the decades and century to come.
Interestingly, Roger Brooke Taney, Lincoln’s greatest political rival, would be attributed to a house close to the western end of All Saints Street. This is near the intersection with Bentz Street. This dwelling would eventually become a museum that would interpret the life of Taney, the former Frederick resident and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who is remembered for writing the majority opinion in the Dred Scott Case. It was also Taney who twice administered the presidential oath of office to Abraham Lincoln.
History is simply amazing when you really think of all the intricate connections between events, places and people. Best of all, Frederick and her citizens are part of so many chapters of our great country’s story. As can be found each and every week through this blog, we can learn so much from examination of the lives in those residing in not only our cemetery, but any burial ground.
“Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid?” This hymn, written for quartet, rang out in the early afternoon 110 years ago on this very day (October 3rd, 1912). The occasion, a funeral of course, featured hundreds of people in the form of friends, family members, neighbors, education colleagues and former students. They had come to Mount Olivet to pay their last respects in the cemetery’s Area P at the southeastern base of what we call Cemetery Hill. The decedent was a man who did a great deal for his community, state, nation and fellow man. I’m not trying to be facetious here, but I can say with conviction that this man’s greatest achievements fell on deaf ears—and he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Charles Wright Ely was not a native of Frederick or Maryland, as he hailed from the northeast. Ely came to Frederick in 1870 after accepting an administration position for a newly formed educational facility established here just two years earlier in 1868 in the form of the Maryland School for the Deaf.
Interestingly, Professor Ely’s old school is located half the distance to Mount Olivet’s front gate as his gravesite is to the same gate near the statue of Francis Scott Key. This Ely family plot is adorned with a central monument for Charles and wife Mary, with the graves of four of his five children on both sides.
I opened up this blog with the mention of a particular religious hymn from Professor Ely’s Funeral, as it is also mentioned in his obituary. The hymn’s lyrics were written by an English minister named John Mason Neale in 1882, and based on music composed 12 years earlier by Henry W. Baker in 1868. Coincidentally, that was the year of Maryland School for the Deaf’s founding.
The hymn "Art thou weary? Art thou languid? " is a translation from the Greek of St. Stephen the Sabaite, who was a monk who lived near Bethlehem, overlooking the Dead Sea. Born in 725 AD, this poor fellow was placed in a solitary monastery at the age of ten by his uncle, and left there for fifty years. He died in 796. I found it interesting that he, like Professor Ely, spent a large part of his life amidst a backdrop of silence. Regardless, here is a rendition of the beautiful hymn that Neale wrote:
From the research I’ve done, the subject of our “Story in Stone” was anything but “weary and languid.” He was a guiding force for the institution we Frederick residents refer to simply as “MSD.” He even sported a mean pair of "muttonchops"..... Charles W. Ely certainly meant business!
When taking the position as principal in 1870, no one could have known that Professor Ely would work tirelessly for the next four decades on behalf of students, staff and a board of directors headed by the famed Enoch Pratt of Baltimore.
Maryland School for the Deaf is located on South Market Street. At one time, this was considered far south of Frederick Town. The Frederick “Hessian” Barracks had served home to a Revolutionary War prison facility, a drilling camp for militia soldiers of the War of 1812, a cocoonery for making silk, and was the first permanent home of the Frederick Agricultural Society’s annual exposition and fair.
This event came to an abrupt halt during the American Civil War, as the barracks property was transformed into a major military hospital center labeled Union Hospital #1. Here, soldiers of both armies received care from a talented group of physicians, nurses and benevolent townspeople doing their part to help. At war’s end, the Agricultural Society found a new home for their “fair” and the locale was destined to serve home for an educational use.
Within a few years, this would become home to the Maryland Deaf and Dumb Asylum, specifically chartered by the State to care for children in need of special instruction means to assist with the challenges that deafness brings.
The mission of today’s MSD is to provide ASL (American Sign language) and English language models for early language acquisition, and to provide linguistically-enriched ASL and English environments for the attainment of fluency in both languages. This mission is accomplished when all MSD students become fluent in both ASL and written English upon graduation.
The name of Charles Wright Ely adorns the Academic Building and Auditorium at Maryland School for the Deaf. He is remembered fondly, and with good reason. This building and others like it were built in the late 1960s after the demolition of the original institution structure, one of the former architectural masterpieces of our famed town. It was constructed under Professor Ely’s careful management.
In my research, I wanted to check on the origins of American Sign Language and here I found another irony involving Professor Ely, and in particular, his home state of Connecticut. ASL is thought to have originated in the American School for the Deaf (ASD), founded in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817. Originally known as The American Asylum, At Hartford, For The Education And Instruction Of The Deaf And Dumb, the school was founded by the Yale graduate and divinity student Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.
Inspired by his success in demonstrating the learning abilities of a young deaf girl Alice Cogswell, Gallaudet traveled to Europe in order to learn deaf pedagogy from European institutions. Ultimately, Gallaudet chose to adopt the methods of the French Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris, and convinced Laurent Clerc, an assistant to the school's founder Charles-Michel de l'Épée, to accompany him back to the United States. Upon his return, Gallaudet founded the ASD on April 15th, 1817.
Thomas H. Gallaudet’s legacy is honored by the naming of the famed educational institution bearing his name in Washington, DC—Gallaudet University. Originally known as the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind (from 1864-1894), T. H. Gallaudet’s son Edward Miner Gallaudet served as its first president from 1864-1910. This gentleman and our subject, both Connecticuters, were intimate colleagues as well as friends.
The Ely family name can be found here on this campus as well as on our own MSD campus in downtown Frederick. Charles Wright Ely gave assistance to Gallaudet from his seat to the north in Frederick, but one of his sons would have a lasting impact. Charles Russell Ely would serve as a teacher here from 1892-1912 and from 1913-1939, the year of his death. Charles Russell only left the school for a brief period immediately following his father's death, during which he served as MSD's principal from 1912-1913. Later, he served as vice-president of Galluadet from 1920-1939). The old student center building at Gallaudet was named for Charles Russell Ely.
Back to our subject, Charles Wright Ely, he died in 1912 while visiting his son at Gallaudet. It came as quite a surprise because as he was only 73 and in relatively good health in both mind and body.
To give a backstory on this interesting man, I share here the biography of Professor Ely found in T.J.C. Williams’ History of Frederick County, published in 1910, two years before his death.
“Charles Wright Ely, for nearly forty years the efficient and able superintendent of the Maryland School for the Deaf and Dumb, at Frederick, Md., was born in Madison, Conn., in 1839. He is a son of Elias Sanford and Hester (Wright) Ely.
The Ely family is one of the oldest of the New England families, the American ancestor settling in Connecticut in 1660. Elias S. Ely, the father of Charles W. Ely, was a native of Madison, Conn., where he was born in 1809, and died in 1888. By occupation, he was a farmer. He was one of the leading and most prominent citizens of his neighborhood, and there was scarcely a local office that he did not fill at one time or another. In politics he was an ardent supporter of the old line Whig party, and served for one term in the State Legislature. He was a man of sterling worth and strict integrity. In religion he was a consistent member of the Congregational Church. Elias S. Ely was married to Hester Wright, a daughter of Jedediah Wright, who in early life was a sea captain. The Wrights, also an old Connecticut family, located there in 1660-’70. Mrs. Wright lived to the age of three score and nine. Elias S. and Hester (Wright) Ely had eight children, three of whom are living: 1, Elias H., merchant of Columbus, Ohio; 2, Cornelia M., wife of the Rev. W. T. Sutherland, of Oxford, N.Y.; 3, Charles W.
Charles W. Ely grew up on the homestead, where he remained until he was nineteen years of age. After leaving the public schools of his native State, he entered Yale College, from which he graduated in 1862. He then entered the Union army as a private, became a sergeant and participated in the battle of Fredericksburg, in which engagement his regiment lost one-third of their men. After this, sanguinary battle, he was promoted to be a lieutenant in the Twenty-seventh Connecticut Infantry.
At the expiration of his term of nine months, he was mustered out, and, in 1863, went to Columbus, Ohio, where he engaged in teaching in the State Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. In 1870, Mr. Ely was induced to come to Frederick in order that he might take charge of the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb.
For the first three years after his coming, the institution was located on the Old Soldiers’ Barracks, but that has been supplanted by the present fine structure, which now accommodates one hundred pupils, and could easily care for half as many more. All modern facilities and conveniences are to be found in the buildings, and the grounds comprise about twelve acres. Here, for nearly forty years, Mr. Ely has labored hard, and it is due to him that the institution has attained the high rank which it occupies among educational schools of this kind in the country today. He has always had interests of the school at heart, and he has devoted all his energies of mind and body to perfecting the system now in use there. The evidences of his labors are apparent to the most casual observer, and to him is due the most unstinted praise for the high plane to which he has brought the school.
In politics, Mr. Ely has always adhered to the Republican party, although he has never sought public office. For many years he has been an active member of the Presbyterian Church in Frederick, in which he has served as an elder for a long time, and of which he is ever a liberal supporter.
Charles E. Ely married Mary G. Darling, daughter of S. R. Darling, of Elyria, Ohio. They are the parents of four children: 1, Dr. Charles R., professor of Natural Science, Gallaudet College, Washington, D.C.; 2, Grace Darling, a teacher in the institution of which her father is the head; 3. Mabel D. ; and 4. Richard Grenville, both engaged in teaching.
Mr. Ely is a member of the G. A. R., of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion and of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Not "weary and languid," but rather "polite and able" (according to another article), I found countless articles regarding Professor Ely and his professional accomplishments and work around the country as a leader in the field of deaf education.
The basis of many lectures as a case study in early deaf educational models, Ely took time in the early 1880s to pen MSD’s early history.
I was fascinated to see an article in which Ely served as an umpire for an MSD football game in the year1894. His name often made the papers for his church and community work, and I learned that he regularly spent summers in his native Connecticut with family.
Professor Ely continued his mission to serve students and the Deaf educational community at large up through his last moments. His final activity was a work engagement in Baltimore, followed by an impromptu stop on the way back home to Frederick at Washington, DC to see his son Charles. Sadly, his wife would not get the chance to say goodbye as his demise came quick with Mary and a daughter in transit, getting to his bedside too late.
Charles Wright Ely was finally silenced, as he said a great deal in life through his professional and personal deeds and integrity. Ely's obituary, and reports of his funeral, appeared in multiple newspapers as his reputation was held in high esteem on a national scale.
Monument inscription: "Born in Madison, Connecticut. Graduate of Yale. Soldier in the Union Army and for forty-three years honored and beloved principal of the Maryland School for the Deaf."
Charles W. Ely was not the first to be buried on this grave plot. An infant son, Robert, was buried here upon his death in 1873. Wife Mary Ely would die in 1926, and children Grace, Mabel and Richard would follow in future decades. As an aside, daughter Grace Darling Ely (1871-1960) also served as a teacher at MSD.
I will leave you with a contemporary arrangement of our opening hymn which has been Anglicized to “Are You Weary, Are You Languid? by a musician named Nathan C. George. I can’t get the song out of my head, and the thought of it makes me thankful for the art of music, and the ability to hear its peaceful melodies and harmonies in all forms. Of course, Deaf individuals can, and do, enjoy music too contrary to some beliefs. It's just that they experience it in a different way than hearing people.
Regardless, it can still be enjoyed, as I'm sure it was by the students who attended Professor Ely's funeral back in October of 1912. While researching, I learned that the legendary guitarist and music artist Prince performed a surprise, free concert for Gallaudet students back in 1984 at the pinnacle of his success with the "Purple Rain" Tour.
Prince was a legendary pioneer in music, and Professor Charles W. Ely was a pioneer in deaf education. Wow, who saw that comparison coming? Ely worked diligently to make the lives of students as full and ready as possible so they could get the most out of the lives they had waiting in front of them. That's why I like that the word "uplift" was used to describe his contributions on the 1931 plaque found on MSD's Ely Academic Building.
Professor Ely's legacy lives as the school he helped build continues "uplifting" lives today, 110 years after his sudden passing.
I. King Jordan, the first deaf president of Gallaudet University and for whom the new student and academic center is named, offered this poignant quote in 1988:
“Deaf people can do anything hearing people can do except hear.”
Back in 2017, we launched the Preservation and Enhancement Fund of Mount Olivet Cemetery, a 501 © (3) nonprofit entity with a goal of showcasing and securing our amazing cultural landscape. As many know, we possess a unique blend of nature, art, and architecture symbolically memorializing the human condition. With the assistance of cemetery staff and our Friends of Mount Olivet (FOMO) membership group (begun in Spring, 2020), the non-profit's mission is to preserve the cemetery's historic records, on-premises house and chapel structures and, most noticeably, thousands of vintage gravestones and monuments.
Our hope is to educate visitors and Frederick residents alike by sharing the fascinating background of Mount Olivet and those who reside in it, numbering nearly 41,000. The “Friends” group is active in related activities designed to generate enthusiasm in not only history research and gravestone preservation, but continued fundraising while spreading community awareness of this special place. We attempt to accomplish this through engaging and entertaining educational lecture programs, walking tours, special events and anniversary commemorations.
Last summer, our Friends group established the Mount Olivet Monument Hall of Fame. We inducted seven monuments, including our most famous in Francis Scott Key, as part of the inaugural class.
In talking with colleagues and other members of our Friends group, we found it best to frame this new “Hall of Fame” on the monuments, themselves, and not specifically on the person (s) buried beneath. So, it is the above-ground masterpiece of art and craftmanship that provides the criteria for consideration, nomination and election to our “Mount Olivet Monument Hall of Fame.”
Unlike other "Halls of Fame" (ie: sports, music, etc.), we didn't have to build a gallery on our grounds, as we already have one! The memorials are already in place, some for well over a century and a half already. All inductees appear in the form of a virtual gallery on the MountOlivetHistory.com site.
Last year, the inaugural class of recipients was formulated by yours truly with help from Mount Olivet Superintendent J. Ronald Pearcey. We announced the esteemed monument choices by way of a walking tour, as part of our first annual Friends of Mount Olivet picnic held last year. This year, we put the task to our Friends of Mount Olivet. A nominating committee within the Friends group was formed in early summer and headed up by Mike and Sheila Schaden. Nominees (put forth by Friends members) were submitted throughout the summer and a narrowed down list of 20 was officially introduced at this year's picnic. The voting commenced with both in-person, online and mail-in ballot from our FOMO membership. Mike and Sheila handled the entire process, and I can attest to the fact that there was no question of voter fraud ranging from stuffing ballot boxes and "dangling chads" to faulty machines or lack of voter ID.
So, with no further ado, I present to you, the reader, our inaugural class of 2022 for the Mount Olivet Monument Hall of Fame.
Emily Blair Gravestone
Location: Area H/Lot 477
Date of Placement: October, 1915
Decedents: Emily (Johnson) Blair
This is a monument that has largely flown under the radar. The natural elements here depicted were magnificently carved in marble and include a cross crafted to look like it was made from wooden logs. It appears to be held up by a pile of rocks and features a dove, flower and fern. Remember that this was all carved by hand by a skilled stonemason without the use of a machine or computer. Most importantly, all this detail was applied to the same chunk of marble.
Since we are here, I will admit that I already know a bit about the decedent this monument memorializes because I wrote a story about her family back in May of 2017. Emily (Johnson) Blair was the daughter of a Frederick native and physician named Dr. James T. Johnson. Dr. Johnson was part of the widely known family of that name and fame in our community and served as a surgeon under the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
Emily gave birth to a son, Francis Preston Blair III, on September 3, 1891 but would endure complications from the childbirth and developed Puerperal Pyrexia, dying just over two weeks later on September 19th, 1891. She was only 32.
Emily had married Cary Montgomery Blair the previous year and the family was living in Huntsville, Alabama at the time of her death. Cary had come from a high pedigree family as well as he was the son of famous Union Civil War Gen. Frank Preston Blair. Frank's father also served as a US congressman from Missouri. Cary Blair's grandfather was Kentucky newspaper editor and politician Francis Preston Blair, who, in 1840, came across a mica-flecked spring near, what is today, Georgia Avenue near the Washington, DC line. The location today is Acorn Park at Blair Mill Rd., Newell St. and East-West Highway. The elder Blair decided he liked the location so much that he would acquire the property surrounding the spring and build a summer home for his family, away from the sweltering, malaria-infested confines of the capital city.
Mr. Blair constructed a 20-room mansion on the parcel and called it “Silver Spring.” Cary’s uncle, Montgomery Blair, represented Dred Scott in the landmark Supreme Court case and served as mayor of St. Louis and Postmaster General under President Lincoln.
Cary Blair would not recover from his wife’s premature death, and lived a reclusive existence in Colorado and Texas until his own death in 1944. Son Francis was adopted and raised in Philadelphia by Cary’s brother, dying himself in London in 1943.
Emily was originally buried alongside her father in Huntsville's Maple Hill Cemetery, but their bodies (and gravestones) would be reinterred in a new family lot in Mount Olivet in October, 1915.
"STORY IN STONE"
Nellie Burrier and her Flowery Gravestone
Location: Area OO/Lot 61
Date of Placement: June, 1909
Decedents: Nellie Burrier
Just look at the level of detail utilized in carving this beautiful flower. The principal floral design chosen for this grave is in the form of an Easter lily. Lilies symbolize innocence of the soul and resurrection.
A few years ago, assistant cemetery superintendent Rick Reeder pointed out to me this beautiful grave monument belonging to one, Nellie Burrier. This can be found on Area OO/Lot 61, with a backdrop of Harry Grove Stadium. Miss Burrier was born on May 9th, 1886, the daughter of Charles D. Burrier (1841-1892) and wife Catherine Hoke Burrier (1846-1935). Catherine Hoke Burrier was the daughter of Samuel Hoke, who possessed a sizeable series of farmsteads in the vicinity of Ceresville, with a home dwelling across from the famed Ceresville Mill. Nellie was the youngest of eight siblings and raised on her family’s farm located in Mount Pleasant, just east of Ceresville and northeast of Frederick City. Nellie’s father passed away when she was five.
I couldn’t find much about Nellie outside her attendance at local schools and partaking in friends’ social gatherings. An article exists that says she enjoyed a party in early spring 1909. Unfortunately, weeks later she would wind up in Frederick’s fledgling City Hospital in May, suffering from appendicitis.
By the end of the month, a newspaper mentioned said that she was doing much better. However, Nellie Burrier took a turn for the worse and died from complications of appendicitis on June 5th, 1909. She was laid to rest here in the cemetery, and her family placed a beautiful marble monument atop her grave.
"STORY IN STONE"
John Engelbrecht Memorial
Location: Area E/Lot 33
Date of Placement: after 1855
Decedents: John Engelbrecht, Margaret Engelbrecht, Theodore F. Engelbrecht, Charles P. McMullin
One of the largest monuments in the cemetery's original, historic section can be found along the central drive on the northern ascent up Cemetery Hill. The depicted figure atop this monument is a winged angel who seems to be holding a book or ledger of importance, likely representing the bible or the book of life. As the agents of God, angels are known as guardians of the dead and signify spirituality. They guide the soul, pray for the soul in purgatory and direct the living visitor to think heavenward.
You may notice that this angel's right arm is broken off. I don't know when or how this occurred, but I bet if we excavated the area we would find the missing appendage. Regardless, the severed limb gives a Roman or Greek antiquities feel to not only the monument, but also the cemetery as you see it in context.
This is the final resting place of John Engelbrecht (1790-1847). The name should ring a bell, or better yet, conjure up a note, as he was the older brother of Frederick diarist Jacob Engelbrecht. John was the son of a German Hessian soldier captured during the Revolutionary War and held as a prisoner at the Frederick Barracks just a block north of the cemetery. His father chose to stay here after his release and became part of the Frederick fabric, working as a tailor and attending Evangelical Lutheran Church.
John Engelbrecht also enjoyed gardening and song, as he was a musician who participated in two local bands of note: the Harmony Band and the Jubalean Band. He married Margaret McMullin (1798-1880) and had at least two known children (Theodore Frederick (1821-1867) and John Conrad (1819-1906).
Jacob Engelbrecht wrote the following in his diary upon John's death:
"Died this day at 5 Minutes before 2 o' clock PM my Brother John Engelbrecht he was born in this town "June 1st 1790." Consequently his age was 56 years 7 month and 12 days. Complaint dropsy. His son John C. is here now, but his son Theodore F. is in New York City."
-Thursday January 12, 1847 3 o'clock PM
Unlike the simplicity exhibited in the humble grave markings of his "well-known" brother (Jacob), parents and other siblings, John Engelbrecht's grave is quite expressive in size and scope. He was originally buried in Frederick's Lutheran graveyard between East Church and East Second streets, and behind the church edifice. Mount Olivet opened in 1854, seven years after his death. Our records show that his body was removed here a year later in 1855. I assume the monument came at that time, as the Lutheran graveyard could not accommodate a monument of this size, not to mention an iconic Victorian style and design that was more suited for the new cemeteries of the period, rather than a church graveyard.
Location: Area LL/Lot 150
Date of Placement: after 1937
Decedents: Clarence H. Hett, Naomi A. (Reifsnider) Hett, Nelson H. Reifsnider, Nena (Knott) Reifsnider, Samuel D. Reifsnider, Sarah A. (Hollinger) Reifsnider, Robert R. Reifsnider, Clytie A. (Baker) Reifsnider, Naomi L. (Hett) Passmore
So I'm no architecture student and am humbly open to correction from readers. I would classify the Art Deco style utilized for this standout monument in Mount Olivet's Area LL/Lot 150. The characteristics of Art Deco reflect admiration for the modernity of the machine and for the design qualities of machine-made objects involving relative simplicity, planarity, symmetry, and unvaried repetition of elements.
Regardless, this piece of granite marks the resting place of Samuel David Reifsnider (1855-1921), his wife Sarah Alberta (Hollinger) Reifsnider (1854-1926) and three of their children and family members: Nelson Hollinger Reifsnider (1880-1958) and wife Nena Caroline (Knott) Reifsnider (1880-1947), Naomi Alberta (Reifsnider) Hett (1882-1957) and husband Clarence Henry Hett (1879-1937), their daughter Naomi Lucile (Hett) Passmore (1908-1951), and Robert Raymond Reifsnider (1886-1966) and wife Clytie Almeda (Baker) Reifsnider (1890-1961). Another daughter, Edna Lucille (Reifsnider) Duvall and her husband Carl Duvall, are buried in Area GG, while two children who died as infants (Rea Halbold Reifsnider in 1888 and Samuel Miller Reifsnider in 1894) are buried in Area R.
Samuel Reifsnider was a miller, who owned and operated Glissans Mill from 1877 to 1880, and Carroll Creek Mill, later known as Reifsniders Mill, from 1893-1913. The latter, originally built by Daniel Dulany about 1746 and at one time owned by Col. Edward Schley, was located on Gas House Pike near the current Frederick City Wastewater Treatment Plant at the mouth of Carroll Creek. The mill was flooded badly in August 1911, and struck by lightning and burned in July 1912.
After Reifsnider sold the mill and his adjacent home in 1914, he moved into Frederick City, building a house at 236 Dill Avenue. Son Nelson Reifsnider operated a feed and grain warehouse on N. Bentz St. and lived at 608 Trail Avenue. Son-in-law Clarence Hett and his family lived in Philadelphia where he ran a hair cloth mill. Son Robert Reifsnider was a mechanic for the Baltimore Police Department, but retired in the Frederick area.
Krantz Monument of Hope
Location: Area H/Lot 156
Date of Placement: 1901
Decedents: Mary C. Krantz, Edward D. Krantz, Catharine E. Krantz,
A picturesque scene can be found in Mount Olivet’s Area G. Standing high above all surrounding others is the funerary monument of Edward C. and Mary Catherine Krantz. The towering gravestone was erected in the waning years of the Victorian Era (1832-1903) and displays the high ornamentation that characterized that time period. The era was an eclectic period in the decorative arts with several styles—Gothic, Tudor, Neoclassical—vying for dominance. This was true in architecture, furniture, and, of greatest interest here, the funerary arts. In cemeteries, gravestones became taller, embellished and sentimental.
This particular grave monument on Lot 156 features a shrouded woman with arms folded across her chest, gazing upwards toward the heavens in what appears to be prayer and contemplation. The white marble statue sits atop a polished, granite base. Altogether, the work stands roughly 10 feet in height.
The monument itself is a paean to Victorian design—possessing an air of triumph, symbolism and sentimentality. Upon closer inspection, one will notice that the woman has a chain draped around her neck which extends down and across her chest to an upright anchor at her side. One of the anchor’s spades is partially concealed under the rear of her robe. Look carefully and you will see that the chain is actually depicted as being broken at the point it reaches the eye-hole atop the anchor.
"STORY IN STONE"
John J. Markell and Family Monument
Location: Area D/Lot 71
Date of Placement: after 1866
Decedents: Artist John J. Markell and parents Samuel and Amelia Markell
When seen draped and empty, an urn symbolizes death, the final partition, separating the living from the dead. The return of the body back to ashes, and dust, leading to the soul's rebirth in the next realm. This tops a monument in Mount Olivet's Area D that can simply, and fittingly, be seen as a "work of art."
This monument rests over the grave of Samuel and Amelia Markell, and their talented son John, an artist who died whilst only in his early twenties.
John Johnston Markell was born on June 17th, 1821, and likely received his education at the Frederick Academy, where his father had been appointed to teach the Introductory School in 1809. In 1827, Samuel Markell would oversee the Third Department, which I'm guessing would denote secondary education. As for artistic talent, John J. Markell was self-taught as a painter. He may have gained inspiration from miniature portraits of his parents that were painted at the time of their wedding. A depiction of Amelia Schley Markell dates to March 9th, 1815 and was done by the Swiss itinerant artist David Boudon.
John J. Markell was only 17 years old when he painted his first self-portrait in 1838 in Philadelphia. Even at an early age, he clearly knew he was an artist, and holds, in his hand, several brushes to identify himself as an artist. By 1839, at the age of 18, he was found living in Leesburg, Virginia., and advertising his services as a “Portraits and Landscape Painter.” Markell had embarked upon the life of an itinerant portrait artist, travelling to various locations and offering his unique services to the local population.
Markell only lived to age 23 and was buried in the German Reformed burial ground (today's Memorial Park) on the corner of W. 2nd and N. Bentz streets. In 1866, John Markell and his father were reinterred to Mount Olivet's Area D. The monument here befits a talented artist as it is a masterpiece unto itself. It truly looks a hundred times better than ever these days after our FOMO Group (lovingly known as "The Stoners") gave it a solid cleaning last summer. (Check out the amazing "Before and After cleaning" photos below)
"STORY IN STONE"
John Knight McDannold "Tiffany's Monument"
Location: Area F/Lot 53
Date of Placement: c. 1899
Decedents: John Knight McDannold
The final gift of a loving (and extremely wealthy) grandmother to a favorite grandson, this Celtic Cross is something to behold. What makes it even more special is the fact that its maker is the famed Tiffany & Co. (jewelers) of New York City.
John K. McDannold’s obituary described him as: ”a young man highly esteemed and beloved by a wide circle of friends here in Frederick. Endowed by means, and possessing a generous disposition, his deeds of kindness knew no bounds and the generous impulses of his nature often responded to appeals of those in need. With the exception of intervals after the death of his parents, he resided in Frederick. He was fond of traveling and while away from home made many close and lasting friends. He inherited an affectionate disposition and in turn was idolized by an aged grandmother whose grief is incredibly great.”
Born in Orange, New Jersey, the recipient of this magnificent monument spent much of his youth living in Manhattan (New York City). John and his sister lived with their maternal grandmother in downtown Frederick during the 1890s after losing both parents at a young age. He would join them here in the family cemetery plot in 1899 when his ill-fated journey to Cuba with a friend stalled in Savannah, Georgia. It was here that he came down with a fatal case of pneumonia. John Knight McDannold died just a few days later. It is said that his funeral was the largest attended up to that time.
"STORIES IN STONE"
Capt. Cornelius A. Staley "White Bronze" Marker
Location: Area P/Lot 139
Date of Placement: after 1883
Decedents: Capt. Cornelius A. Staley and wife Mary A. C. Staley
At first glance you may, or may not notice, something quite peculiar about this monument. Unlike its lithic brethren here in Mount Olivet, it is man-made of metal and not a carved stone from nature. This was a very popular and stylish type of grave memorial that arose in the last few decades of the 19th century and known as “white bronze” markers. We have 20 of this unique variety here in the cemetery.
These standout funerary memorials (also nicknamed "Zinkies") were the brainchild of a man named Milo Amos Richardson (1820-1900) and business partner and brother-in-law, C. J. Willard. Mr. Richardson worked as a cemetery superintendent in Chautauqua County, New York, and had observed the need for a new and better material for cemetery monuments. He set out to develop a solution of creating a material for memorials that would repel moss, algae and lichen, invasive and unwelcome guests that take up residence on traditional gravestones, especially monuments in shady locations within cemeteries characterized by abundant tree cover or dampness.
Richardson and Willard’s formula centered on the use of zinc carbonate. Amos Richardson, along with two business partners, tried to get a company off the ground but failed. In 1879, the rights were sold and a new company, the Monumental Bronze Company, was incorporated in Bridgeport, Connecticut to manufacture these new monuments.
One more innovation (that white bronze made possible) resided in the opportunity for customers to employ a myriad of popular symbols and designs of the late Victorian period on these unique monuments. These beautifully ornate memorials became a high-selling novelty especially in the northeast, and the examples that have remained are well over a century old and look virtually new, so to speak! The name “white bronze” was given as it certainly sounded more elegant than zinc.
As for Captain Cornelius Staley, I've included his biography below and taken from Williams' History of Frederick County.
"STORY IN STONE"
Terra Cotta Marker
Location: Area A/Lot 116
Date of Placement: July 1874
Decedent: Arfue Brooks
One of the smallest grave monuments within Mount Olivet is also one of the most thought provoking. In addition, this final resting place of a child, who died in 1874, is among the most eye-catching, as it clearly stands out against a backdrop of 40,000 other gravesites. The memorial in question is not made of marble or granite, and deceives some into thinking that it could be an above ground crypt—crafted in the shape of a small sarcophagus from ancient time.
Before receiving a thorough cleaning a few years back from cemetery superintendent J. Ronald Pearcey, you wouldn’t have even noticed this memorial to Arfue Brooks. And if, indeed, you did find it, an attempt to read the name carved on the exterior would have been a futile and frustrating chore—but not anymore.
A bas-relief figure of a sleeping child conjures up a melancholy feeling as the onlooker is tipped off to the occupant’s age and innocence. In contrast, a sudden feeling of warmth (in any season) may follow, thanks in part to the brown-orange hue of the monument— a diversion from the vast sea of whites, grays and blacks that can be found throughout the grounds. As far as I know, this is the only terracotta monument of this color and design within the cemetery. Through research we learned that Arfue's memorial was made by a firm in Philadelphia.
"STORY IN STONE"
Winebrener/Gambrill Family Monument
Location: Area Q/Lot 24 & 26
Date of Placement: after 1902
Decedents: D. C. Winebrener, Sr., Rebecca B. (Markey) Winebrener, James H. Gambrill, Jr., Susan M. (Winebrenner) Gambrill, Rebecca G. Gambrill
This monument has been one of the most photographed in the cemetery boasting a defiant woman wielding a cross and having an upturned finger towards heaven. The message should be clear to anyone viewing this art sculpture in stone that there is no doubt that the decedents buried here were religious, righteous and destined for heaven.
It's no surprise that the strength of this monument perfectly represents the lives of those buried beneath, particularly D.C. Winebrener and son-in-law James Henry Gambrill, Jr. (1866-1951). Both men were prominent businessmen, and extremely civic minded. Winebrener is best remembered for the "double-store" he operated at 144-148 North Market Street in the late 19th century.
James Gambrill took over the prosperous mill begun by his father on Carroll Creek at Carroll Street. We know this structure today as the Delaplaine Arts Center. Mr. Gambrill is best remembered today for his love for conservation as he is responsible for bringing awareness to many natural areas across the state, but none more special than Catoctin Mountain immediately west and northwest of Frederick City. His efforts would eventually lead to the creation of a state park which would take the Gambrill name. Both men and their spouses warrant separate "Stories in Stone" articles, which will be coming soon.
So there you have it, the Class of 2022 of the Mount Olivet Monument Hall of Fame. To see last year's inaugural class, click the MORE header tab on our MountOlivetHistory.com website to find the link for the official Monument Hall of Fame gallery page.
Please consider joining our Friends of Mount Olivet membership group and you too can help nominate and choose next year's monument inductees. Most importantly, you would be helping us preserve and interpret these special stones into perpetuity. We have a Prospective Members Day coming up on Tuesday, October 4th. If you are interested in hearing more about the Friends of Mount Olivet, come out as we will also be taking a walking tour of some of the Hall of Fame monuments.
Friends of Mount Olivet Prospective Members Day
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4th
(Meet at the Key Chapel/behind FSK monument)
(2-hour session includes light refreshments and a history walking tour)
BECOME A MEMBER
The annual “summer to fall passage” includes the period when kids go back to school, football season kicks off, and Market Street is closed off to pedestrians for “In the Street.” The true punctuation mark that summer is yielding to the splendor of fall and pumpkin-flavored novelties is our beloved county fair, a hometown tradition—as nothing says home like the Great Frederick Fair! For those old enough to remember, the fair itself formerly was held in October (and fall itself) to correspond with the yearly harvesttime.
It may not be a largely publicized fact, but this year marks the 200th anniversary of an event that occurred in May of 1822. This was the first exhibition and cattle show in Frederick’s history. It was put on by the newly formed Frederick Agricultural Society and took place on May 23rd and 24th, 1822 at George Creager's Tavern near the Monocacy Bridge, two miles east of Frederick on the Old Baltimore Turnpike Road.
I performed some research on the Great Frederick Fair’s earliest origins a decade ago and found that the tavern in question was actually called the Monocacy Bridge Hotel, owned by Levi Hughes. Mr. Creager apparently rented from Hughes and eventually ran into financial hardships resulting in him being sued for funds owed his landlord. The old hotel once faced south, overlooking the current Park & Ride facility that sits off MD144 two miles east of Downtown Frederick (and roughly a mile and a half from the present fairgrounds property). The original cattle exhibition was held on grounds just west of the Monocacy River and the original Jug Bridge built in 1808.
1900 vintage postcard looking west across the Monocacy River and famed Jug Bridge. The first cattle show was held on the farmland to the left of the Old National Pike that bisects the image. The Old Monocacy Bridge Hotel can be seen in the distance (white house fronting pike and to the left of the red barn)
To my knowledge, cows haven’t been on this property in years, but retail vehicles and golf balls abound (thanks to an rv sales dealer and driving range) in this unique triangle formed between the mighty Monocacy, I-70, the Old National Pike (MD144).
I was able to piece together the agricultural event's colorful history of the 1800s, and was honored to have the Fair Board “exhibit” my findings (complete with appropriate visuals) in the form of a large interpretive mural display. It can be found in the east entrance to the Null Building at the fairgrounds. It's a tapestry of sorts, actually printed on fabric and pulled taut by a metal frame. If anything else, it makes great reading while waiting in line for the public restrooms found adjacent the exhibit.
Mount Olivet has many connections to the best, and brightest, fair in the state, and we have done a number of stories under this blog heading to highlight some of the folks who have played significant roles in making the fair so successful and special. A few years ago, I even conducted a special walking tour at Mount Olivet on what has been called “Fair Day,” traditionally the second Friday while the event is in session. This was an unofficial, local holiday of sorts throughout my youth and beyond as kids used to get the full day off school. Today it’s simply an early dismissal situation, but the opportunity is still offered for children of all ages to come out to enjoy the spectacle on a weekday.
One of the stops on our cemetery walking tour included a name once keenly associated with the fairgrounds—Charles N. Daugherty. At first, you may think he was the originator of a bustling breakfast haven that sits up on the northeast loop of the track, not far from Hemps. However, this vendor is Dougherty’s County Kitchen, and not Daugherty’s. It is named for Harry Baxter Dougherty, Jr. (1935-2018), a legendary concessionaire from Taneytown who was here at the Frederick Fair with his Country Kitchen for 48 years. He owned a successful ice company, Ice Cream Shack and real Estate operation.
Even after Harry Dougherty's death, the Country Kitchen remains in residence here for the elongated "Fair Week." Meanwhile, Charles Daugherty was a permanent, year-round fixture of the Frederick Fairgrounds. This familiar figure served as the property’s caretaker.
Charles N. Daugherty came to Frederick via Gettysburg in the year 1909, at which time he was appointed caretaker. The fairground was only 40 acres in size, but would be enlarged to 60 during his tenure. He had a hand in building, re-building and supervising construction of all the structures on the premises before his retirement in 1950. He has been described as a “versatile artisan” and spent nights here when the grounds were bustling with fairgoers in the heart of fall, all major holidays and the darkest/coldest days of winter.
Charles Norman Daugherty was born on February 18th, 1879, the son of Jacob L. and Mary (Pfeffer) Daugherty. He spent his youth on the family farm in Cumberland Township, Adams County, PA. He was married on December 8th, 1901 at the Mount Joy Lutheran Parsonage in Barlow, Adams County, PA. His bride was a Frederick girl named Mary Maud Solt, daughter of Jacob Berry Solt, the then-caretaker of the Frederick Fairgrounds on East Patrick Street.
The young couple lived in Cumberland Township after their nuptials and would have three children: Margaret (b. 1902), Edward (b. 1908), and Mary (b. 1911). They would move to the Frederick area before Edward's birth in 1908.
In 1909, Jacob B. Solt announced his intent of retiring from his position as keeper of the Frederick Fairgrounds. He asked the Fair’s Board of Directors if his son-in-law, Charles, would be permitted to take over his job. Mr. Solt went one step further in promising that if Mr. Daugherty did not perform job duties to a satisfactory manner, that he would re-assume duties as keeper.
Charles got the job and, sufficed to say, successfully passed his 90-day review and then some. By the year 1917, he was being paid $2.00/day for his services as groundskeeper.
From records we learn that his wage gradually increased over the next seven years to $75.00/month (basically $2.42/day in a 31-day month). The minutes reflect that he was required to give his time to the Frederick Agricultural Society, however a major perk included free residence in the keeper’s dwelling, complete with the “privilege” of raising 25 chickens confined to his yard.
When living on an agricultural fairgrounds, life among animals has its ups and downs as can be attested to from these articles found in the old newspaper archives.
Charles N. Daugherty faithfully served until April 1st, 1950, completing 41 years of service. His replacement would be a gentleman named Guy Wetzel (1900-1971) who is also buried in Mount Olivet with Charles' predecessor, father-in-law Jacob B. Solt who had died in 1925.
An event likely prompting Mr. Daugherty's retirement was the death of wife Maud on May 16th, 1949. She would be laid to rest just a few feet from her parents and her daughter Margaret who died at age seven back in March of 1910.
Charles took up residence off the fairgrounds property for the first time in 40+ years. He would move to 920 Motter Avenue across from Staley Park in the north end of Frederick City. His son Edward was living there in the 1940 and 1950 census records. Charles sold the property to Edward in 1949, and his grandson Edward Daugherty, Jr. still lives here. An alley that runs behind the house is called Daugherty Alley.
Charles died in August, 1964 and was buried in the Solt family lot in Mount Olivet's Area OO/Lot 26. Maud's parents Jacob and Elizabeth are buried directly behind the Daughertys. Daughters Margaret Elizabeth Daugherty (1902-1910) and Mary Helen Daugherty (1911-2003) are buried here also.
Charles N. Daugherty took good, or should I say great, care of the fair, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for being among those of Frederick's past who gave us the fruits of Frederick present that we enjoy today. The Great Frederick Fair is certainly one of our community's prized possessions to call our own.
To learn more about the history of the Great Frederick Fair, click the button below.
Come visit our Friends of Mount Olivet booth at the Frederick Fair (under the West Grandstand). Come visit Chris and other Mount Olivet staff and ask to play the "Stories in Stone" Trivia Challenge for an opportunity to win Mount Olivet history memorabilia.
One of the earliest big starlets of “the silver screen” was Gloria Swanson. Born in 1899, Gloria May Josephine Swanson was born in Chicago in 1899. She first achieved fame by acting in silent movies in the late teens and early 1920s. She became a fast favorite of legendary film producer/director Cecil B. DeMille and became his leading lady in a string of films, commonly called "moving pictures" in those early days. The actress was nominated three times for Academy Awards and is best known for her portrayal of Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, completing a major career comeback in the 1950 offering.
Gloria Swanson is said to have impacted “Roaring 20s” fashion by popularizing hairstyles, rising hemlines, and high-heel shoes decorated with imitation pearls and stones. Plain and simply, she was a major icon at a time when the motion picture industry and star-power celebrity was just getting started. Other leading actors and actresses of this period included Lilian Gish and Greta Garbo, and male leads such as Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino.
As one of the first major movie stars, young Miss Swanson had Frederick, Maryland under her “proverbial” spell in the early 1920s. I found advertisements heralding her film appearances at local theaters. I also uncovered related gimmicks by local merchants in peddling Gloria Swanson inspired candies, stockings and hats. A local beauty salon even boasted “Gloria Swanson Day” in 1923.
The previous year, in early May of 1922, the Frederick News-Post announced a unique “Swanson- themed” competition, asking the question, “What Frederick County girl most resembles Gloria Swanson?” This promotion was being undertaken by Mr. Walter Decker, manager of Frederick’s City Opera House. Many of our readers have been to the theater’s former location on North Market Street as it serves home to Brewer’s Alley Restaurant.
This “Resemblance Contest” was a great marketing ploy by the Paramount Motion Picture Company in promoting Miss Swanson’s latest movie offering, entitled Beyond the Rocks and co-starring Swanson's friend, male heart-throb Rudolph Valentino. As an aside, this particular motion picture was one of cinema’s most famous lost films—until 2003, when a print was found hidden away in the Netherlands among the possessions of an eccentric collector.
Voting for the "Resemblance Contest" was heavily encouraged throughout the week of May 3rd through 8th as contestants were asked to drop-off photographs of themselves at the local newspaper office or City Opera House. The winner was chosen by a panel of local judges, with the promise of three great prizes, tops of which was a gold wristwatch. I’m assuming this was the same brand worn by Miss Swanson in the movie.
The entrant deadline came on the night of May 8th, and judging took place that night with an announcement of the winners in the following day’s paper.
The local winner was a girl named Grace Irene Smith who spent most of her life living at 223 West 5th Street in Frederick. The property the Smith family owned from 1906-1926 is home to Frederick’s Salvation Army headquarters these days which sits between Trail Avenue and Bruner Alley.
Well-known and popular, Grace Smith was born on July 30th, 1906. I couldn’t find much regarding her childhood, but she was said to have been popular among friends. I’m sure “resembling” the top movie-star of the day also had its perks as well.
Grace had two sisters and her father, Harvey E. Smith, worked as a “drayman.” Although I had seen this term before, I had to look this vintage profession up to get a better understanding. A drayman was historically the driver of a dray, a low, flat-bed wagon without sides, pulled generally by horses or mules that were used to transport all kinds of goods.
Today the term drayman is still used in US ports for truck drivers who deliver containers to and from ports. Its also used for brewery delivery men, and has been for centuries. I guess you could consider the most famous dray that which is pulled by the famed Budweiser Clydesdales.
Interestingly I found out quite a bit on Mr. Smith which we will get to in a minute. On my initial search of his name in newspaperarchives.com, my first “hit” features an advertisement in the local newspaper for his hauling business. Ironically, above his listing was an advertisement for a Gloria Swanson movie.
The Smith family moved out of Frederick City in 1926 to Oak Orchard, a 20-acre farm owned by the Dudderar family since 1836. This sat off the Liberty-New Windsor Road in eastern Frederick County at the junction of the aptly named Oak Orchard Road. Today the Smith’s former home can be found at 14802 Oak Orchard Road. Again, I haven’t gleaned why a move was made, however Mr. Smith was a native of the Johnsville area so perhaps there could be a familial connection to the area. There also could have been need for a move to “greener pastures” for health reasons because our “Gloria Swanson” doppelganger would die in December of that year at Oak Orchard.
Grace passed on December 3rd, 1926 at the age of 20 due to complications associated with diabetes. Her obituary also made mention of Grace’s accomplishment four years earlier in winning Mr. Decker’s “Resemblance Contest.”
She would be buried in a plot in Mount Olivet's Area U/Lot 124. My hope is that a current day cousin/family member reads this story and can give us more about the life of this young lady who died much too young. I wonder if the prized gold watch is also in someone's possession, or is it long gone?
Of course, we can learn more about individuals through their family ties. Since I did not find much on Grace, primarily due to her shortened life, I discovered that her father was quite a well-known individual in the area. The local newspaper featured a thorough article on Mr. Smith in 1953 on the occasion of his 81st birthday. The article shows particular interest in his former profession as a drayman.
Harvey E. Smith died in 1960, outliving his wife (Olivia) and daughter Margaret. All three are buried in Mount Olivet’s Area U/Lot 124 with Grace who had died decades earlier.
In 1950, the year that Grace's sister Margaret died, Gloria Swanson made a historic comeback in the highly acclaimed Sunset Boulevard, for which she received her third Oscar nomination for her role as a former silent-film star named Norma Desmond. The film stars William Holden as Joe Gillis, a struggling screenwriter who is drawn into Norma’s demented fantasy world, where she dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen.
Although Gloria appeared in a few later films, she devoted most of the remainder of her career to television and the theatre. Her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson, was published in 1980. The man who helped Gloria write this book was William Duffy, her sixth husband. They came together thanks to a book written by Duffy in 1975 entitled Sugar Blues, which has become a dietary classic, which has sold over 1.5 million copies.
Of course this resonated with me because our subject, Grace Smith, died due to complications attributed to diabetes. I researched this more and was intrigued to learn that Duffy uses the narrative form to delve into the history of sugar and history of medicine. Gloria had been a health and fitness advocate throughout her life. She took fitness to the next level with dancing, weight training and even yoga. In the 1920s, she started practicing clean eating and cut out both white sugar and meat from her diet. In the 1960s, Gloria met Duffy and convinced him that white sugar was unsafe. Dufty undertook a program of research of the impact that sugar has had on health, science and capitalism, and wrote Sugar Blues in 1975. Gloria traveled the United States promoting Sugar Blues, and the couple married the following year.
Gloria Swanson died of a heart ailment in 1983, at the age of 84. Her mortal remains reside at the Episcopal Church of Heavenly Rest Columbarium in Manhattan.
Labor Day weekend is here once again, a tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. This year that falls on September 5th.
Labor Day was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. This week’s “Story in Stone” pays tribute to a Fredericktonian who we can attest to as a faithful employee who “labored” at the time the holiday originated. However, I’m not quite sure if he had that very first Labor Day, itself, off, let alone the entire weekend during that inaugural year of 1894. If not, let’s hope that he had a three-day weekend in 1895 or 1896.
The grave of this man, John A. Brooks, recently caught my eye for two specific reasons. First, his gravestone was recently cleaned—making it clearly legible. And second, I was intrigued by the following transcription on his gravestone :
“For 14 years a faithful and honest messenger for Montevue Hospital.”
Who names their employer on their headstone? Seems like it was a mutual admiration society between Mr. Brooks and the old Montevue Hospital. There had to be something special between this man and this local institution—was it simply a “labor of love?”
This gravestone is located in the cemetery’s Area M, a somewhat lonely spot located to the right (north) of what we call Confederate Row. There are not many graves here as this was the site of single grave plots, usually reserved for people not having proper means for adequate burial on their own behalf.
So, you now may, or may not, have two questions for me. What does a messenger do in his or her profession? What is, or was, the Montevue Hospital?
A messenger in the sense of the word here carried messages, telegrams and mail between Frederick City and the hospital via a wagon. Today, we are more familiar with bike messengers in big cities. In a hospital setting, a messenger is responsible for assisting clinical personnel in transferring patients to and from beds, wheelchairs or stretcher. They also assist people in and out of vehicles, and escort or transport patients to and from the hospital lobby.
We’ve now given a job description, so what about the location in which John A. Brooks faithfully labored from 1892-1906? Many longtime residents are familiar with the Montevue Hospital, whose name translates to “mountain view.” This was the “county home,” or almshouse, which provided care for those unable to help themselves. I recall this impressive building fondly from my youth and younger days before its demolition in 1987.
Since I grew up northwest of Frederick in the Rocky Springs area, the grand structure was an unmistakable landmark along the west side of Rosemont Avenue as it becomes Yellow Springs Road. Directly across from Fort Detrick, the site now serves as the Frederick County Health Department, and the name survives today as the Montevue Assisted Living and Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center. I even visited residents here on a few occasions through my time with Cub Scouts.
Frederick’s first “almshouse” opened in the 1770s after state assembly authorization at a location on West Patrick Street. It would be lost to fire, but a new one would be built in the same vicinity of Bentztown as the first. This was built at 261-263 West Patrick Street. It was west of Bentz Street on the north side of the thoroughfare, and apparently backed up to Carroll Creek. It even had its own burial ground, long since gone and unmarked although the bodies likely remain.
The name “almhouse” dates back to England and the Tenth century as they are rooted in the religious practice of giving “alms,” or charity to the poor and infirm. This can include elderly or homeless persons, in addition to those suffering from debilitating illnesses and disabilities. This is also where some vagrants beggars, vagabonds and other offenders were sent as punishment.
By 1830, a larger almshouse was needed to properly serve the community. This would be built in 1830 on a 94-acre parcel given by the family of Elias and Catherine Brunner. The location was outside the city limits (at that time), off the Fourth Street Extension, later named Rosemont Avenue. Henry Steiner, Jr. (1790-1868) was appointed overseer. He is buried in Mount Olivet’s area E/Lot 95. This almshouse would sustain itself as a farm with inmates helping in its operation. Local produce sold would help with the funding.
In 1870, a new, larger structure was needed on the premises. The county almshouse site seriously evolved with the construction of Montevue Hospital. The new, 4 1/2-story brick facility cost $125,000 to build and featured significant improvements such as a dining hall and a second kitchen. When construction was complete in January 1871, many of the residents from the older facility were transferred over, and the former almshouse building was demolished. As an important aside, black residents didn’t have the same access to the important upgrades offered at Montevue, and were quartered in the “Old House,” a farmhouse which remained on site until a new, segregated building was constructed around 1897. This building was later renovated into the Emergency Hospital which operated between 1934 and 1955. It still stands today and serves as home to the Frederick County Extension Service.
By 1877, Montevue Hospital had the second largest resident population among Maryland’s public almhouses and asylums. This is where our friend John A. Brooks proudly labored. I’ve come across a few old photos of this facility and wonder if any of those folks within can be him?
By 1930, the purpose of Montevue Hospital and associated buildings had shifted. As new hospitals were constructed and social services expanded, there were fewer children and older patients residing at the facility. Montevue continued to provide shelter for transients, the elderly poor, the mentally ill and those in need of medical care, especially African Americans who had few other resources. As the 20th century moved forward, Montevue’s farming and medical facilities were de-emphasized and the property was developed for different uses. In 1987, Montevue was demolished. The site now serves as the County Health Department.
Okay, one final question now that we know what a hospital “messenger” is, and what the famed Montevue was like, at least at the time before, during, and immediately after Mr. Brooks’ tenure. Who was this John A. Brooks? Well, I’ve labored to find info but have come up empty. Our cemetery records have nothing of note beyond the information that can be gleaned on his stone. He died on July 3rd, 1906, aged 73, but no birthdate including year is given.
We can narrow down the date thanks to the 1900 US Census which shows John living at Montevue, with his birthdate listed as August, 1833. This census record states that he was born in Maryland as were his parents. In addition, a son named Charles F. Haines (b. 1873) was living on the premises and employed as a laborer. The different surname certainly threw me a curveball, as does the fact that I couldn’t find a “Charles F. Haines” (born 1873) in our cemetery records or in the census records.
So, if John A. Brooks had a son, who was John’s wife? A little more digging had me finding a census record from 1900. Here was John A. Brooks with wife Susan R. Brooks living in Mount Pleasant.
As many are aware, the US Census of 1890 was lost to a fire, so other methods have to be sought to try to research folks during that 2--year gap between 1880 and 1900. A check in Jacob Holdcraft’s “Names in Stone” showed that Mrs. Brooks had died on June 5th, 1888 and buried in Mount Olivet. Our records confirmed this fact and, voila, I found her buried on Area H/Lot 134 amidst a family by the name of Koontz. I’m hypothesizing that Susan was a Koontz.
I next found an interesting article in the local paper dated August 27, 1891, just three years after Susan’s death at age 35.
What did John A. Brooks possibly do to get sentenced to Montevue? Was he living the life of a homeless tramp, or was he an addict of some sort, or possibly mentally ill? Whatever the situation, it seems that it was an important life event as he would eventually make this location his final home and career up through his death in 1906.
I found a few articles that mention his re-appointment as messenger at Montevue, but nothing more until his obituary and funeral notices in July, 1906. Apparently, an amputated toe helped lead to his demise.
So I will labor no further, and enjoy my three-day weekend. If you want to “work” on the life of John A. Brooks, please be my guest. Let me know what you find, and I will add it into the published story—but not before Tuesday, September 6th mind you.
“Angelic Bookends,” that’s what they are. These two funerary pieces can be found in Mount Olivet’s Area U/Lot 123. They mark the graves of Laura Jane and Ann Elizabeth Kehne, two sisters who died in their early youth and just a decade apart from one another.
The pieces in question employ a “throwback,” or vintage, design of a cherub commonly referred to as a “child-angel.” This iconic figure from the Victorian era is a symbol of innocence and immortality. In cemeteries, monuments of this type usually denote the grave of a baby or a child. When they adorn the grave of an adult, their meaning might be more representative of the soul’s entrance into paradise than a connection to childhood.
I assumed available information on these decedents would be light as these two youngsters spent a combined 14 years of existence in this world. Hopefully, someone out there reading this piece will add more about them (and the family) in the comment section (at the end of this article) as the girls’ parents have both passed within the last 20 years.
The extent of information on Ann Elizabeth Kehne can be found in her obituary and funeral notice in the local newspaper from 1957. Born January 6th, 1955, Ann only attained the age of two, dying three days after her birthday on January 9th, 1957. Our cemetery records show that although the family was living in Frederick’s Monocacy Village (912 Cherokee Trail) at the time, the toddler died of encephalitis while hospitalized in Baltimore.
Just over a year after Ann Elizabeth’s death, the Kehnes had reason to rejoice as they were blessed with the birth of a second daughter on March 3rd, 1958. She was given the name Laura Jane. I wasn’t expecting to find much about this youngster in the newspaper either, but I was wrong as I immediately found a photograph of her in an edition of the Frederick Post from October 17th, 1962. It shows Laura Jane undergoing ambulation therapy. For those not familiar with the term, “ambulation” is the ability to walk without the need for any kind of assistance.
The picture’s caption said that this therapy had taken place at the Frederick Easter Seals Health Center. This facility opened in 1957 and was once located at the Odd Fellows Home on North Market Street. It served not only Frederick County, but our neighboring counties as well. Now, some of our younger readers may be asking, “What is/are Easter Seals?” Easterseals (formerly known as Easter Seals) is a charity founded in 1919 as the National Society for Crippled Children. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing disability services, with additional support areas serving veterans and military families, seniors, and caregivers.
The name "Easter Seals" came from an earlier fundraising program begun in 1934 with colorful adhesive seals, the size of postage stamps being sold around Easter. Purchasers could stick these on the back of mailed envelopes, as a popular tradition was to send cards to friends and family both at Christmas and Easter seasons. Because of the program's success, the organization changed its name from "the National Society for Crippled Children" to "Easter Seals."
Another photograph of little Laura had appeared a few months earlier in the Frederick newspaper. It showed Laura, with her mother (Elizabeth), receiving assistance from Frederick’s Zonta Club. I would find another at the end of 1963 with a visit from Santa.
Right when I began thinking that my young subject (Laura) could have been some sort of posterchild for children with disabilities, I read the heartwarming news on January 3rd, 1964 that Laura had been named Maryland’s Easter Seal Child.
An informative article appeared in March of 1964. Laura was making great progress and was a shining example and ambassador for the work the Easter Seals organization was doing.
I found nothing more at hand during my cursory checks of old newspapers and the internet, save for some school class pictures appearing in newspaper. Laura would go on to attend the Visitation Academy from what I could see.
Sadly, the last mention of Laura Jane Kehne came in the form of her obituary in late August of 1967. She, like her sister, died in Baltimore. This occurred on August 25th of that year at the tender age of 8. Laura would be buried a few days later in Mount Olivet, roughly five yards away from the “older” sister she never had the chance to know. A “child-angel” monument was added to mark her final resting place, just like the one that had been placed on Ann Elizabeth Kehne’s grave a decade earlier.
Visiting the sisters graves this week, I sought to learn more about the basis of these particular funerary monuments. In their online blog entitled Cemetery Insights and Beyond, authors Dave and Linda Vichiola-Coppola state that:
“Cherubs appear in the Book of Genesis and are ranked as one of the highest orders of angels. As the Bible story goes, after Adam and Eve’s banishment from the garden of Eden, God stationed a cherub holding a flaming sword to guard the entrance. It was not hard for the faithful of long ago to imagine the cherubim as sentinels. The traditional image of a cherub was not cute or childlike at all. In modern times we find it difficult to envision a winged infant (or a young child) holding a flaming sword and assuming a strong stance to ward of intruders. Our perception of the cherub was changed by two important developments during the 19th Century: archaeological discoveries and a set of new social values.
In the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome, the god of love was depicted as a young boy. Yet, neither the Greek god Eros or the Roman god Cupid is depicted as a baby. Lin Vertefeuille of Ringling Docents.org points out that the image of the cherub as a baby more closely resembles a nature spirit known in ancient Greek and Roman mythology as genius/genii. The same images of the winged babies appeared in masterpieces of art from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, but they were called putti (putto, singular). During the Victorian era, there was a revival of classical art sparked by major archaeological excavations that were taking place in Greece. The winged baby image of the genii decorated the artifacts that were unearthed. The image appealed to the Victorians because of its resemblance to the infant angels that were depicted in masterworks of art from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
The Coppolas go on to say, “While archaeology played a role in the cherub’s physical characteristics of the 1800’s, a growing cultural concern over the well-being of children made the cherub a popular cemetery monument. Prior to the 20th century, the death rates for children and infants were staggering. Before the time of major medical advancements, many infants died at birth and those that survived had to make it through childhood without succumbing to infectious diseases. Poverty levels in industrialized areas and the lack of child labor laws made children more prone to life-threatening health problems.”
Annette Stott, a writer for the website Nineteenth Century Art-Worldwide, explains, “High mortality rates boosted the value of children….an ideal of childhood arose that stressed the natural innocence and joyfulness of children.” Advocates of child labor laws during the late 1800’s helped prompt growing social concerns over the well-being of children. The treasured values of childhood were frequently depicted in Victorian art and literature. The images of the putti that decorated the Greek artifacts resembled a baby angel, just as the Roman and Greek god(s) of love (Cupid and Eros) resembled an angel child. So, when a child died, the Victorian cherub served as an appropriate graveside symbol of innocence and youth. Today, the Victorian cherub remains a popular cemetery icon to mark the graves of children and infants.
Many examples exist within the historic section of the cemetery. A more modern angel can be found close to the Kehne sister on the east side of Area U as the prime marker for a unique section called “Babyland.” I know the name catches some off guard, but this is a specific area designated for infants and toddlers. Young children of this age were originally buried in Area M, also known as “Stranger’s Row,” a charitable area where bodies of deceased visitors to town (without family elsewhere) could be buried, as well as indigent persons, or those widowing wives and orphaning children with little to no means to bury their loved one. Many infants were buried here in economical, “smaller designed” lots—helping to relieve a financial strain from families not having family plots (or planning for them in the prime of life as young adults).
When photographing the Kehne “child-angel” monuments for this story, I struggled to find the girls’ parents anywhere nearby. I simply found a large family marker for the lot-holding Hoffman family. Once back in the office, our database revealed that parents Harold Dorsey Kehne and Elizabeth Eloise “Boots” (Shoemaker) Kehne were buried in Area FSK/Lot 105. This is a section to the immediate north of the Mausoleum/Office complex in the back section of Mount Olivet. This is nowhere close to Area U where Ann and Laura are located. A secondary question came to me in addition to “Who were these young “angels?” — “Why are these girls not buried with their parents in the same location?”
I soon found the Hoffmans to be the maternal great-grandparents of Laura Jane and Ann Elizabeth Kehne (grandparents to the fore-mentioned Elizabeth (Shoemaker) Kehne. This took a little detective work—fitting because original lot-holder George Jacob Hoffman (b. 1868) was a Frederick City policeman. Mr. Hoffman died at age 53 at his home at 152 East South Street in 1922. He would be the first of his immediate family to be buried here in a plot shared with his great-granddaughters.
George’s widow, Annie Hoffman would continue living in her home on Frederick’s southside off East South Street. This a fairly recognizable rowhouse that still stands today across from the Frederick County Public Schools headquarters building on the northwest corner of East South and South East streets. The house at #152 is the easternmost townhome here, just down from Winchester Street. Regular readers of this blog may recall that the name of this street comes from Benjamin F. Winchester who opened a brick manufactory in this vicinity. This would eventually become Frederick Brick Works. Benjamin was the brother of Hiram Winchester, a New England schoolteacher who was responsible for the Frederick Female Seminary on East Church Street in the 1840s. This is today known as Winchester Hall and serves home to our local Frederick County Government.
Back to our Kehne sisters and their great-grandmother Annie (buried between them), Mrs. Hoffman is listed as head of household in the 1930 census. Her sons worked as salesmen for a nearby ice plant operation, while her daughter, Margaret, and granddaughter, Elizabeth, also lived here. The puzzling thing for me here came in the realization that six-year-old Elizabeth Shoemaker was listed as “Elizabeth Hoffman” and that her supposed mother, Margaret Hoffman was only 11 years her senior at age 17? I thought that perhaps Margaret was simply an aunt and that there was a missing, or deceased, son of Mrs. Annie Hoffman who could be the father of Elizabeth prompting the name Hoffman here in this census record. Her mother would be missing as well.
Our cemetery records did not provide me with the names of Elizabeth’s parents, however, my research assistant Marilyn Veek answered these questions for me. She showed me that George and Annie Hoffman's daughter, Margaret Laura Hoffman, married a man named Jacob Arthur Shoemaker, Sr. and that Elizabeth was the daughter of Margaret Hoffman. I checked our database and found Margaret and Jacob Arthur buried here in Mount Olivet (Area FF/Lot 294). Our records show Margaret’s birthdate as February 15th, 1904, thus proving that the 1930 census showing of her age as 17 was erroneous. She was actually 27 and plenty capable of having a six-year-old daughter in 1930.
When I looked for Mr. Shoemaker in the 1930 Census, I found him also living with Margaret, but at a location around the corner at #10 Winchester Street—and they had other children too!
In Ancestry.com, I found the R.L. Polk Frederick City directory from 1928-1929 that listed both Jacob and Margaret Shoemaker as living at 152 E. South Street, the former Hoffman family home. They must have moved nearby shortly thereafter. Margaret was a machine operator at a tailoring business and Jacob was an electrician with Frederic Iron and Steel Company. As an aside, I found a small article in a paper from 1916 that stated that Jacob had run away from home, but not for long. This occurred just months after the youth was “stunned” by a bolt of lightning that struck near his church in Braddock Heights.
Naturally, I expected to find Elizabeth living with her mother and Mr. Shoemaker in the 1940 census. Instead, Elizabeth was still residing with her grandmother and maternal uncles on Winchester Street. Maybe the house on Winchester wasn’t big enough? Or perhaps Elizabeth got along better with her grandmother than mother, we may never know?
Meanwhile, Margaret Hoffman Shoemaker can be found living at #10 Winchester Street with three children: Jane, Jacob Arthur, Jr., and Cleora.
Elizabeth can be found once again living with her grandmother Hoffman in spring of 1950, and she is listed as an elementary school teacher. She had graduated from Frederick High School in 1940 and from State Teachers College at Towson in 1944. She would later earn her master's degree from University of Maryland at College Park.
Just a few months after this census was taken, she would be married in the month of July in a double wedding ceremony with a younger sister named Cleora (Cleo) Shoemaker (1930-2015).
Mr. Kehne was a former veteran of World War II and may be remembered for owning a gas station, Kehne’s Citgo on the corner of East and East 13th Streets, not far from his family’s home in Monocacy Village. He owned this from 1957-1974 and That station still exists today as the East Street Liberty.
The Kehnes would have three children, the fore-mentioned Ann and Laura, and a son David. Harold Dorsey Kehne, age 86, of Frederick, passed away at Frederick Memorial Hospital. He was a graduate of Frederick High School (class of 1943). After selling his business, Mr. Keene attended the University of Maryland and studied education, likely inspired by his wife. He taught at Middletown High School, West Frederick Middle School, and New Market Middle School, until his retirement in 1986.
A teacher for 31 years, Mrs. Kehne first taught at Emmitsburg Junior High School and at several other schools including Elm Street School and Frederick High School. When she returned to teaching after having children, she taught at Frederick Academy of the Visitation and then returned to teaching public school. An early advocate for special needs students, she started the county's physical education program at Harmony Grove School and then moved to Rock Creek School when it opened in 1972. This would lead to her election into the Alvin G. Quinn Sports Hall of Fame. Her unselfish service and belief in impaired students led her to strive for successful creation of the Frederick County Special Olympics. She coached students to numerous championships in various sports and created for her teams and students the opportunity to achieve beyond all expectations. Somewhere along the way, she picked up the nickname “Boots.”
Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, Max S. Kehne, is also a member of this prestigious group of local athletes and sports pioneers recognized in the Quinn Hall of Fame (housed at the Frederick County YMCA). Max Kehne is still remembered as most famous softball pitcher in Frederick County history, and a member of the Maryland Softball Hall of Fame. He was also a key area sports promoter and a member of Frederick City Board of Aldermen at the time of his untimely death due to an automobile accident. Max S. Kehne Park on West 7th Street is named in his honor.
Elizabeth S. Kehne retired in 1986. She was active in the Frederick City Recreation Council, serving for many years as the council's secretary. Following her retirement, she was a volunteer tutor with the Literacy Council of Frederick and enjoyed spending time with family and friends in Frederick and in Rehoboth, Delaware.
I found that surviving son David helped establish the Harold D. and Elizabeth S. Kehne Scholarship Fund in 2015 with the Community Foundation of Frederick County. The fund’s purpose is to provide scholarships to graduates of Frederick High School or Gov. Thomas Johnson High School pursuing a career in education. Preference is given but not limited to students attending Towson University, University of Maryland College Park, or one of these educational institutions’ extension campuses. Since the fund was created, it has helped students pursue careers in education just as the Kehnes did.
So, there it is. I figured out who the interesting monuments in Area U were “bookending,” so far from the gravesite of their educator parents. I had become intrigued with Elizabeth’s challenges throughout her life. Her resilience as evidenced by her educational pursuits and achievement are evident that she persevered despite any initial setbacks. I will say that knowing this information about Elizabeth’s childhood and professional career, certainly makes me respect her even more knowing that she lost Ann Elizabeth at such an early age, and was forced to endure the incredible stress of having Laura and working so dutifully as a mother with assisting her daughter in the everyday challenges revolving around disabilities. As we know, this would end with Laura’s untimely death as well.
I never knew Elizabeth Eloise (Shoemaker) Kehne, but when I visited her gravesite here in Mount Olivet, several hundred yards from that of her daughters, I thought to myself that perhaps there should be one more “child-angel” monument placed here on her grave as well.
In my professional past, I've had the opportunity (on more than one occasion) to visit rock quarries. I was working on a documentary back in the late 1990s which I named Monocacy: the Pre-history of Frederick County, Maryland. This project involved an investigation into the geologic history of our region, and what better way to see the rocks deep below the ground surface of today, than visiting a quarry? In addition to the old LeGore (current-day Barrick Quarry) near Woodsboro, I also filmed at another large operation north of Buckeystown--the former Essroc Quarry, now known as the Vulcan Materials Company.
Of course we have the Martin Marietta Quarry (formerly LaFarge) only a mile from Mount Olivet Cemetery to the southeast. This comprises an earlier quarry known as the M. J. Grove Lime Company. Gravestone conservators like Jonathan Appell have told me that the daily blasts at this site have caused movement to some of our taller, ornate, multi-piece grave monuments over the years. Of course, we all know that East South Street/Reichs Ford Road is no stranger to sinkholes as well thanks to this operation from time to time . In fact, my former in-laws had to have one of their Golden Retrievers rescued after falling into a sinkhole on the Maryland School for the Deaf property north of Monocacy Boulevard.
I was also introduced to smaller rock quarries from our past, sprinkled throughout the county, including, of course, the visitor-friendly, former site of the Fountain Rock Quarry. This is a county park today and has a nature center to compliment the remains of lime kilns and a nice boardwalk in which to traverse the water- filled quarry cavity. My kids loved it.
From my vast experience in researching Frederick history, I know of many more places once mined for limestone on local farms. A while back, I wrote a "Story in Stone" that featured the Schley Quarry, once located north of the Frederick Fairgrounds property and today's Highland Street.
The first quarry that I ever heard of, comes from my youth growing up in the Rocky Springs area northwest of Frederick City. Although I never tried it for myself, I heard stories of kids swimming at a quarry positioned south of Shookstown Road. It's still around, and today is more commonly referred to as Lake Coventry. It's tucked within the residential community of Willowdale, just west of the Frederick Elks Club.
At one time, this location was discussed as a possible water reservoir to feed Frederick City but this idea never materialized.
This location was infamously memorable to me as I recall the news while I was in high school of a fellow teen, only a couple years older than me, drowning in the old quarry. That was enough to make me leery of quarry swimming for a lifetime. The Shookstown Quarry like others had flooded out many years before from aquifers seeping water through its lowest levels. Many local kids used it as our “swimming hole" for decades.
Robin Lee Zimmerman was buried at Resthaven Memorial Gardens. I found an article in the Frederick paper just four months later that reported a car was retrieved from this quarry. I've never seen a quarry used to dispose of stolen vehicles while watching my children play GTA ("Grand Theft Auto" video game series), but apparently it was a thing back in the day.
That would be one more reason not to jump in a quarry, as you may land on a car! Not to mention the gas, oil and anti-freeze from the vehicle that now comprises the soothing water. The newspaper articles regarding Mr. Zimmerman's death cite earlier fatalities here at Shookstown in 1977 and 1955. I even read an online recollection from a former co-worker (Jack Spinnler) at Frederick Visitor Center in which he said that he almost lost his life there at the Shookstown Quarry site when he was 16, due to a diving mishap.
The deceased in the 1977 incident at Shookstown was a 29 year-old Howard County resident named Emmanuel Lee Wells, Jr.
In each of my filming and research sojourns, I asked for, and was duly granted, permission to do what I was doing. I was also accompanied by someone who knew the lay of the land as well. This was an obvious need for the large commercial operations, but I understood the dangers involved with the extant, historic sites, long since abandoned. My greatest takeaway from the experience of visiting these scenic and seemingly peaceful settings--quarries are dangerous places!
A site called Geology.com reports that in a typical year, several people die in accidents that occur in abandoned mines across the United States. Some of these deaths could have been prevented if citizens knew the danger of these properties, and if landowners had made better efforts to warn and limit access to said bodies of water. The website also speaks to government's role in having improved programs for reclaiming or regulating these places. The stern warning is as clear as the water in some quarries, "If you are a mineral collector, hiker, recreational vehicle rider, swimmer, or curious person, you have no business entering an abandoned or inactive mine or quarry. In almost every instance, you will be trespassing because abandoned mines and quarries are almost always on private property."
Drowning is the number one cause of death in abandoned mining locations. Most people involved in this type of accident originally went to a quarry for swimming or ATV riding. Quarries are extremely dangerous places to swim. Steep drop-offs, deep water, sharp rocks, flooded equipment, submerged wire, and industrial waste make swimming risky.
Another risk factor is the very cold water. Many quarry operations excavate to depths below the water table and use pumps to keep the mine dry while it is in operation. When mining stops, the pumps are turned off and the quarry floods by the inflow of cold groundwater. This groundwater inflow can keep the quarry water very cold, even in late summer.
Jumping or falling into cold water can be fatal--even for a young healthy person. Here is a quote from the National Institute of Health on how the human body responds to sudden immersion in cold water:
"A fall in skin temperature elicits a powerful cardiorespiratory response, termed "cold shock," comprising an initial gasp, hypertension, and hyperventilation despite a profound hypocapnia. The respiratory responses to skin cooling override both conscious and other autonomic respiratory controls and may act as a precursor to drowning."
I also wrote a "Story in Stone" about the previously mentioned Grove family tied to multiple quarries. Although focusing on baseball with a pivot point of Harry Grove, namesake of our local stadium, I recalled the family's successful business endeavor at Frederick and another location at Lime Kiln, located on MD route 85 just above Buckeystown.
The M.J. Grove Lime Company was one of the largest and most successful companies of its kind. It was founded in 1860 by Manassas J. Grove with his son William. Grove, a Frederick County native born in 1824, worked as a teacher, merchant, surveyor, and postmaster until he decided to capitalize on the increasing use of lime for agricultural purposes. He purchased a tract of limestone land along the main line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, five miles south of Frederick, which became the village of Lime Kiln, and began manufacturing lime.
In 1889, the company purchased the property known as the Brengle Lime Kilns from Thomas Schley and Raymond Reich, as well as the lime kilns of Samuel Hoke, which were located at the southeast edge of the city, near present day Interstate 70 and Reich’s Ford Road. The property included six lime quarries with 14 iron clad kilns for burning.
In November, 2020, The City Of Frederick's Preservation Planner, Lisa Mroszczyk Murphy, wrote about Frederick's quarries in her amazing Preservation Matters series found in the Frederick News-Post. She had this to say about the father of our stadium namesake (Harry Grove):
"In 1902, the M.J. Grove Lime Company erected a stone crushing mill at the Frederick plant to supply crushed stone for railroad ballast and hard surfaced roads. In 1905 the company entered into road building and bridge construction and went on to build one of the first concrete roads in the state. By 1906, the company was producing 1,000,000 bushels of lime yearly and established itself as one of the largest industries in the county. The company also established quarries in Buckeystown, Stevens City, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
M.J. Grove died in 1907 and his sons continued to operate the company well into the 20th century. In 1910, a report by the Maryland Geological Survey described the Frederick quarry of the M.J. Grove Lime Company as the largest near Frederick. It also reported that they operated 17 kilns and had other steel-clad kilns under construction. Notable projects by the company included supplying stone for the White House grounds and for water filtration at McMillan Reservoir in Washington, D.C. In 1925, a concrete and cinder block plant was constructed at the Frederick location in order to utilize the fines from the crushed stone plant. In 1960, the company became a division of the Flintkote Company."
So back to abandoned quarries, I recently came across an early tragedy involving the site tied to the Grove's operation at Lime Kiln. This event involved a father and son, James F. Burch, a Virginia native from Loudoun County, and his five-year-old son, William Clarence. This event occurred in August, 1901.
I immediately wanted to locate this quarry and went to an atlas map and Google Earth for clarification.
James and Clarence were laid to rest in Mount Olivet's Area K on the northern boundary of the cemetery near the Key Chapel location. During the Civil War, this exact location was the site of "a Union Row" of graves of northern soldiers who died of wounds suffered at nearby battlefields or of disease/illness. Many of these grave spots were repurposed as single grave lots, many going to destitute persons and infant decedents after the vast majority of soldiers were relocated to the national cemetery at Sharpsburg which opened in 1868.
I was interested to learn more about Mr. Burch and his backstory. We didn't find much. James F. Burch's parents were Francis E. Burch and Henrietta P. Newton Burch. He was born in Loudoun Co, VA, but the family moved to the Poolesville area in the 1870s. His parents and various other aunts, uncles and relatives are buried at Monocacy Cemetery in Beallsville. James didn't own property, and worked as a laborer for the Grove Lime Company. My assistant Marilyn could not pinpoint exactly where he and his family were living, but it was likely Lime Kiln or neighboring Buckeystown to the south.
Speaking of south, the Findagrave record for Francis Burch says that he was a Confederate Veteran, 1861-1865 (American Civil War), as a member of "Jacob's Mounted Riflemen", Mounted Infantry, VA. There are no military records of his service with the Confederate States of America (CSA) that we could find.
Henrietta Burch died in 1906 in Washington, DC. Two of her children also lived in DC. James F. Burch's siblings included Henry Clay Burch and Robert Lee Burch, (historical figure names) as well as a sister Margaret (Burch) Dove. As an aside, one of Margaret Dove's daughters became Sister Mary Ignatius Loyola Dove, and is buried at the Visitation Convent Cemetery here in Frederick. Another sibling of James F. Burch was John Lewis Burch, who died after jumping off a railroad bridge in Washington, DC in 1909.
As if the loss of her husband and young son wasn't terrible enough, Jennie (Carson) Burch would be widowed and now found herself as the single parent of seven children. To add to the family's plight, Jennie died just nine months later, perhaps due to complications of childbirth with son James Francis (b. April 22nd, 1902). She would be buried in an adjoining lot (K67) and her name carved on the same monument with her husband and son.
I became very curious of what became of the orphaned children including Johnson who eye-witnessed the deaths of his father and younger brother at the quarry back in August, 1901. James and Jennie Burch's surviving children were:
1.) Katherine Virginia Burch (Aug. 1885-1934, married Charles Martin Paris in 1913 in Washington, DC).
2.) Mildred Alice Burch (Nov. 1886 - 1942) is buried here in Mount Olivet near her parents grave in Area X/Lot 1.
3.) Robert E. L. Burch (Jan. 1889 - Dec. 4th, 1911) - funeral notice attached; it says that he attended Buckingham School and that he died as a result of injuries from his railroad job. Buried at Mount Olivet in the same grave lot as James and William Clarence (Area K/Lot 64), however his name was not placed on the monument.
4.) Thomas Johnson Burch (Aug. 16th, 1892/1893 - May 7th, 1930) who is buried at Mount Olivet under the name Johnson Burch. I couldn't find him in the 1910 census or later, but did locate his WW1 draft registration. The Charles Black for whom he was working in 1917 is probably the Charles N. Black (1886-1983) buried at Mount Olivet in Area L. Johnson died of pneumonia and is recorded as being buried in Area K/Lot 51, a few yards away from other family members in an unmarked grave.
5. )William Clarence Burch was the original victim of the Grove Quarry accident of 1901.
6.) Frances C. Burch (Mar 1899-1960) - in 1910 she was in the Loats Asylum. In 1918, she married George Washington Grantham in Washington, DC. Apparently after he died in 1940, she married Charles Woods Adams.
7.) James Francis Burch (April 22nd, 1902 - Aug. 28th, 1971) was born after his father's death. As mentioned above, his mother died May 16th 1902, perhaps due to complications of his birth. In the 1910 census, he is shown as an orphan in the household of Richard Carlisle in Barnesville. In the 1920 census, he is listed as the adopted son of Richard Carlisle. By 1930, he was married, but his wife (Francis E. Johnson) died shortly thereafter, and in 1940 James was lodging with Lucy Carlisle (daughter of Richard Carlisle) in Boyds. His youngest son, Robert Lee Burch, was an Army corporal in WWII and is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in California.
Isn't it fascinating (and extremely troubling) how a sudden, unexpected accident at a quarry can change a family's fortunes forever? This particular situation with the Burch family would not be considered careless, but just terribly unfortunate. Regardless, please seek the tranquil waters of a pool or ocean if you can, lifeguards are given that name for a reason.
Special bonus below, click to see Frederick quarry footage east of MD Route 355.
I came across a very odd sight in the cemetery while conducting a tour a few weeks ago for a throng of middle-schoolers attending a history camp. No need to brace yourself, as it has nothing to do with anything disturbing or macabre. Rather, it was simply a discoloration of a section of a ledger-style gravestone. Or should I say, it can be better described as a rare preservation of a portion of a ledger gravestone.
The history session immediately turned into a science lab in which I was describing why this lasting memorial to Eleanor S. (Pratt) Turner (1842-1844) and her consort, Thomas Turner (1799-1849), had a big, white rectangle on its face. I had to stop my presentation and think a minute, but the answer was crystal clear—It was all about aging and exposure to outside elements.
Although old age does a number on all gravestones (as it does most decedents), the Maryland climate with four seasons also plays a major factor on our memorials. Blame this on such things as algae, lichen, moss, mold, or mildew growth and stains. These growths develop on the surface, making headstones look dark, dirty, and downright creepy. Most grave monuments sit outside naturally, and are constantly subjected to moist, humid conditions.
Unfortunately, these situations promote unsightly growths to take hold and grow. This is especially true in the southern part of the country where high humidity is common.
The D/2 Biological solution kills the lichen and whitens the stone, especially effective in the case of marble grave markers. This was the dominant material utilized in the early decades of the cemetery. D/2 is sprayed on the damp gravestone and one can see immediately things start to happen. You may question yourself as to why the gravestone is turning pink? Don't worry—as its normal for the stone to turn a subtle color of pinkish-orange, gray or purplish brown in other cases after applying the solution.
This color change is the result of the biological organisms reacting to the solution. Not all stones react this way, but some will—and this discoloration is only temporary. When it does, it will generally take 24-48 hours before the discoloration disappears. So, the only downside is that you may have to come back after a few days to take some good "after cleaning" pictures.
I give plenty of lectures and programs to civic and social groups around the county and talk about our continued preservation and fundraising efforts and am often asked, "Why do you want to clean the monuments as the wear and soiling gives them a unique character." I ask the question back of them saying "Why do we clean our cars, marble countertops, or power-wash decks and patios?" I tell them not to worry, just give it time and they will eventually be dirty again one day. More so, I explain the importance of cleaning as a necessary maintenance to preserve the longevity of the stone, especially in each monument's legibility. Let's just say, "A clean stone is a happy stone."
If you are curious about the process and want to see it happening live, I invite you to come out some Thursday morning and see for yourself. Perhaps we may even recruit you to our ranks with a membership in our FOMO Group? (Contact me for more info if interested). Nan Markey, our "Chief Stoner," (pictured below) would love to have you as she has been leading our organized process section by section for the past two years. We are lucky to have this level of detail from the retired Registrar of Hood College, and plenty of other talented folks who care about Mount Olivet.
So, what’s the deal with Eleanor and Thomas Turner’s headstone in Area H/Lot 399? Why would somebody only clean a small section of a large ledger stone? Au contraire, this is not the case at all! First off, let me explain the term “ledger stone” to those who may not be familiar with it. A ledger stone, or ledgerstone, is an inscribed stone slab usually laid into the floor of a church to commemorate or mark the place of the burial of an important deceased person. The term "ledger" derives from the Middle English words lygger, ligger or leger, themselves derived from the root of the Old English verb liċġan, meaning to lie (down). Think of accounting ledgers, and ledger paper and notepads—long and narrow.
Ledger stones may also be found as slabs forming the tops of chest tombs. An inscription is usually incised into the stone within a ledger line running around the edge of the stone in the same manner a ledger book contains stacked rows of recorded information and numbers. Such inscription may continue within the central area of the stone, which may be decorated with relief-sculpted or incised coats of arms, or other appropriate decorative items such as skulls, hourglasses, etc. Stones with inset brasses first appeared in the 13th century.
An upright stone in the fashion of an olde world ledger stone of Europe is cleaned by preservation expert Jonathan Appell of Connecticut. This is the oldest formal gravestone in Frederick, likely the county as well. It belongs to Jacob Steiner/Stoner (1713-1748), one of Frederick's first settlers in the mid 18th century.
Gravestones of this type are generally found in older, “colonial-era” cemeteries in New England and English-settled places like Williamsburg, Virginia or New Castle, Delaware. They also were a preferred grave marker of the wealthy. We have many examples here at Mount Olivet, some predating our cemetery and coming from other downtown graveyards. There are also instances of more recent decedents simply fancying this unique, throwback-style of monument.
In the case of the Turners, here is a ledger stone that is propped up off the ground with four rounded-pillars. These appear to be standing on a flat rock, purposely put in place to be used as a foundation, as not to allow the pillars to sink into the earth below. This creates an optic looking like legs supporting a table or an altar. Regardless, you want to put something between the stone and the ground, so as to keep it from eventually sinking and being engulfed into the ground over time.
The grave (stone and decedent) in question was moved here in 1859 from the former All Saints’ Protestant Episcopal Church Graveyard along Carroll Creek. Eleanor Turner died on March 28th, 1844. This took a little research as the All Saints’ Parish Burial Records (Register #3) states: “Ellen or Eleanor S. Turner, wife of Thomas (of D.C.), died March 28th, 1844, while her headstone recorded her death as March 27th, 1844.”
As for Eleanor’s husband (or consort), I was fascinated to learn that Thomas Turner was the editor and publisher of the Frederick Town Herald, immediately before Lewis F. Coppersmith, the subject of our last “Story in Stone.” Coppersmith continued his predecessor’s role throughout the 1850s. What are the odds of that? As I’ve said many times, I love discovering these unique “connections” within these stories as it’s not just connections across family lines, but almost anything imaginable in some cases. Thomas Turner had begun a newspaper in Georgetown in 1837 called the Potomac Advocate and Metropolitan Intelligencer. Like Coppersmith, Mr. Turner also practiced law and served as a clerk as well for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. He died on January 31st, 1849 and his obituary appeared in multiple papers in Maryland and around the nation’s capital.
One way or another, the Turner’s fashionable stone was apparently used as a makeshift table to hold another family member’s stone, or a portion thereof. This was Mr. Turner’s sister, Catharine Contee (Turner) Thomas. She died at age 30 on September 22nd, 1831. Jacob Engelbrecht made mention of this death as well in his famous diary. Like her brother and sister-in-law, Catharine is what we call “a removal,” and was brought here from All Saints Protestant Episcopal Graveyard as well.
We learn that Catharine’s father (Thomas Turner, Sr.) was an "Accountant of the Navy Department" from the inscription on her headstone. The stone also records the fact that she was married to Dr. John M. Thomas. John M. is not buried here with her, as he died on December 28th, 1835, in St. Louis, Missouri, about the age of 38. Dr. Thomas was in the U.S. Army, but I cannot locate a burial for him here locally, in Maryland, Missouri, or the District of Columbia.
Catharine’s mini-ledger stone must have sat on the Turner’s stone for quite some time as it protected/blocked the area directly underneath from the elements and pollutants. For reasons unknown, somebody recently moved Catherine’s stone toward the bottom of her brother’s ledger. Perhaps it was a descendant or interested genealogist who wanted to see what was written on the area of Eleanor and Thomas’ stone that was covered for all those years?
Apparently, the Turners never bought a home in Frederick, unfortunately. Deeds found by my assistant, Marilyn Veek, for Thomas Turner involved bringing enslaved persons from Washington, D.C. into Maryland when he moved here. These included one in 1840 for a Negro girl named Emily (age 18) and a girl Phoebe (age 10). Other deeds were written in 1842 (a Negro girl Rachel age 11-12) and in 1844 (a Mulatto woman Letty Henson aged 30-35 and her infant child Maria Victoria aged about 15 months).
I did, however, find the Turner’s former home when they lived in northwest Washington, D.C. It still stands and is in Georgetown, on the southeast corner of current day 31st Street, N.W. (formerly known as Congress Street) and Dumbarton Avenue.
The Turners had a long history in Georgetown prior to moving to Frederick. Thomas Turner, Sr. (father of our “multi-colored stone” subjects) was clerk of the corporation of Georgetown prior to 1791 and was elected mayor on January 5th, 1795. Also in 1795, Thomas, Sr. was appointed by the governor of Maryland to a committee to assess the impact of constructing a road from Georgetown to a bridge to be built over the Potomac at Little Falls. The bridge would become a reality and featured several stone abutments and wooden cross sections that went across the Potomac. Little Falls is the place on the river where Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia meet. You may recognize this structure as “Chain Bridge,” which originally was a covered wooden bridge completed on July 3rd, 1797. It apparently rotted and collapsed by 1804, and a replacement of the same design burned around 1805. Numerous bridges have been built in the same position since then.
Speaking of bridges, Thomas Sr.’s son, Thomas Turner (Eleanor's husband), was on a committee that petitioned the U.S. Senate to build a bridge in connection with the aqueduct for the Alexandria Canal Company. This was the first Aqueduct Bridge, built in 1830 to carry the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal across the Potomac to connect with the Alexandria Canal on the Virginia shore. The bridge was later converted into a roadway during the American Civil War. In 1866, the canal was restored, and a new wooden roadway built over it atop trestles. The 1830 bridge was torn down in 1884, and a new structure was built, opening in 1889. This would be named for an individual who once lived on the Georgetown side of the bridge that takes motorists across the river to Rosslyn (VA)—the Francis Scott Key Bridge and is more commonly referred to the Key Bridge.
The Washington and Virginia abutments for the original crossing still survive. Both are located a short distance west of the Key Bridge. Between the two abutments, a pier also remains in the river near the Virginia shore. How’s that for “bridging” history?
In January of 1800, Thomas Turner, Sr. (the father of Thomas Turner and Catharine Thomas) was nominated by John Adams to be Fourth Auditor (accountant of the U.S. Navy) in the Treasury Department and served for 16 years. As mentioned earlier, this position is noted on daughter Catherine Contee (Turner) Thomas’ ledger headstone. Fitting that a ledger stone connects to a ledger entry about an accountant, isn’t it?
Mr. Turner had his hands full with the new branch of our young country's armed forces. He would serve in this position throughout the duration of the War of 1812, and was likely very familiar with fellow Georgetown resident and notable war personality Francis Scott Key and his catchy tune about the flag over Baltimore's Fort McHenry.
Examples of Thomas Turner Sr.'s accounting prowess with these published reports on US Navy expenditures at the time of the War of 1812.
Eleanor Pratt and Thomas Turner were married in 1825 in Allegany County, which seems odd at first glance, but both had ties to Cumberland as a home thanks to the construction of the C & O Canal. Not a great deal is known about Eleanor, but there is a definitive connection to Frederick through her mother, Christiana B. (Tyler) Pratt (1767-1825), a sister of Dr. John Tyler (1763-1841). We will review the accomplished life of Dr. Tyler another time as he is buried here in Mount Olivet, but many are familiar with the fact that he was one of our country’s first accomplished ophthalmologists and receives credit as one of the first physicians to perform cataract surgery. His majestic home of West Church Street still survives and is known as the Tyler-Spite House.
Catharine (Turner) Thomas is named for Dr. Tyler’s wife, the former Catharine Contee Harrison (1770-1831). Both Dr. and Mrs. Tyler are buried in Area MM/Lot 52. There is yet another family link as our subject Thomas Turner’s mother was a sister to Mrs. Tyler in the form of Eleanor Contee Harrison who married Thomas Turner, Sr. 1n 1792.
When Dr. Tyler died intestate in 1841, there was an equity court case. Thomas Turner was one of the trustees appointed in the case to handle the sale of Tyler's property but, refrained from buying any of it himself.
Eleanor’s father was Thomas George Pratt, born in the year 1769. He removed from his native Prince Georges County to Allegany County (Maryland) and eventually afterwards lived in southwestern Frederick County at a point about five miles from Harper's Ferry. This was a 245-acre plantation bought in 1830 from the estate of Daniel Leakins which included part of Fielderia Manor on the eastern slope of Catoctin Mountain east of Jefferson (near the intersection of MD 180 and Mount Zion Road). Unfortunately, Pratt got himself into debt and had to sell this property off in 1832. After that, he apparently lived with his son-in-law, a man named George Washington West (1803-1888) who married his daughter Eliza.
The same year of 1832, a year after the death of Catherine (Turner) Thomas, saw more heartache for Mr. Pratt, the Turners and recent widower Dr. John M. Thomas—all connected to our Mount Olivet “Stonehenge of stacked ledgers” in form of a table in Area H. Thomas Turner’s first-born son, named Thomas Turner, would die of Scarlet Fever at the home of Dr. West on October 8th. One week later, Thomas Turner Thomas, only child of Dr. Thomas, would pass of likely the same ailment at the same location. Both obituaries appeared in the October 8th edition of the Frederick Town Herald.
In 1834, Pratt sold West two enslaved persons; the deed includes the following language:
"I Thomas Pratt fully aware of the trouble inconvenience and expense to which Doct. George W. West and his family have been subjected by the board of and attention to myself during the four last years & that the same will continue so long as I may live, and being willing and desirous some compensation to the said Doct. George W. West for the services so rendered and to be rendered by himself and family.”
And here is another amazing connection, but perhaps more so for me, because of a personal link. I recently became interested in the George W. West family through my son’s girlfriend who lives on a parcel that was once part of the larger West plantation known as Westhill Farm. This is located just “west” of Petersville, a small hamlet located on the fore-mentioned MD180, the original road from Frederick to Harpers Ferry which at one time was a turnpike. Westhill Farm is quite picturesque and can be seen from MD 340 as well, with its stone manor house, barn buildings and an adjacent pond.
Thought to be built around 1800 by Thomas H. West, the house passed to his son, Dr. George Washington West (1803-1888), in an 1832 partition of real property following his death. Dr. West was a prominent local physician and former graduate of the University of Maryland in 1825. George W. West would own the farm for more than 50 years and his name is shown on both the 1858 Bond Atlas and 1873 Titus Atlas of Frederick County.
Since I rarely get to speak on Petersville, the village grew as a stop along the turnpike with businesses to serve travelers as well as local farmers. The land on which Petersville is situated was originally patented by Captain John Colvill as the "Merryland Tract" on November 5th, 1731, containing over 6,000 acres. Shortly after the Revolutionary War, Petersville began to develop as a village, with lots facing the turnpike route and four cross streets. The village also sat at the crossroads of one of the valley's north-south roads leading from Middletown to Berlin (today Brunswick). The 1808 Varle Map of Maryland shows Petersville as well. Five years later, in October 1813, the Petersville Post Office was established (it closed in 1909). The Maryland General Assembly established the Petersville District in 1829.
In his will, Thomas Pratt had intended to leave his own plantation at Fielderia (part of the former site of a short-lived, colonial era furnace operation by Fielder Gantt) to his son John Wilkes Pratt, who was named executor. Unfortunately, by the time Thomas died in 1834, he had lost the property. John Wilkes Pratt declined to return to Maryland to be executor as he had gone to Cass County, Illinois for health reasons. While there, the brother of the fore-mentioned Eleanor (Turner) and Catherine (Thomas) worked as a lawyer, served in the State Legislature, and performed duties as Cass County’s first County Clerk.
Not living to see it, Thomas Pratt would've been proud of the fact that his son excelled where he, himself, fell short. Mr. Pratt’s grandson (John Wilkes Pratt’s son) Thomas George Pratt was even more accomplished. The young man studied law and returned to his father’s native state to settle in Prince Georges County. He would serve in the House of Delegates and State Senate for several years before becoming Maryland’s governor from 1845-48. Two years later in 1850, Thomas and Eleanor Turner’s nephew, Thomas G. Pratt, was elected to the U.S. Senate to represent the Western Shore of Maryland.
As for the governor’s namesake, I found Eleanor (Pratt) Turner’s father buried next to his daughter Eliza and husband George W. West in St. Mark’s Apostolic Church Cemetery on the “east” side of Petersville.
After Eleanor and Thomas passed in the mid to late 1840s, their children were split up. Son Thomas became a physician at age 17 and went to live with Samuel Turner, his uncle (also a physician) in Clarke County, VA. Thomas was still living in Clarke County in 1860, but I could not locate him in 1870, as he was possibly lying low after the American Civil War since he served with the Confederacy as a surgeon. In 1880, Dr. Turner and his family were living on South Market Street in Frederick.
In 1900 the family was living at what is now 125 W. Second St, in a house owned by George Nixdorf. The younger Thomas Turner never bought any real estate of his own, but in the late 1890s held a mortgage from Bettie Ritchie on the house then known as 50-52 W. Church St. She defaulted on the mortgage, and he sold the property at 50 West Church Street to Otho Keller and 52 West Church Street to Henrietta Maulsby. Today these properties are labeled as 116-118 W. Church Street. We did a story on Mrs. Ritchie a few years back as she was the foundress of our original Frederick Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Eleanor and Thomas Turner’s daughters remained in Frederick. In the 1850 census, the head of household was Mary Jane Turner, age 36. The others were Rebecca, age 33, Ellenor “Ellen”, age 20, Jane R. age 17, Eliza, age 15. An obituary for oldest daughter Ellenor (aka Ellen/Eleanor Contee (Turner) Magruder) from the Washington Star says she was very prominent later in life after showing selflessness in caring for her younger siblings after the parents died.
Mary Jane Turner (1814-1867) and Rebecca Turner (1817-1877) are aunts of Eleanor, Jane “Jennie” Rebecca and Eliza—making them sisters of our subject Thomas Turner. These ladies bought what is now 211-213 East Second St in 1855. The property was sold in 1879 after Rebecca's death (the current building is more recent, however). I couldn’t determine where they were living in 1850 but, did discover that Rebecca had employment with the U.S. Navy.
Here in Mount Olivet’s Area H/Lot 399, Mary Jane, Rebecca and Dr. Thomas Turner are buried next to Thomas and Eleanor Turner’s table-resembling memorial. The physician died on September 6th, 1908 from "a pulmonary affection."
Within adjoining lot #403, one can find grave markers for Thomas and Eleanor’s daughters: Ellen C. (Turner) Magruder (1828-1896), Eliza Turner (1835-1916) and Jane "Jennie" (Turner) Anderson (1831-1888).
Frankly, all these stones could use a good cleaning, and hopefully they will match the small, pearly white rectangle that can be found on Thomas and Eleanor’s discolored grave ledger!
A lonely stone exists amidst the graves of prominent personages located in Mount Olivet’s Area G on the ascending slope of Cemetery Hill. This locale was also once known as Pumphouse Hill because of the said dug well and “pump” placed atop our chief geologic feature which fed water in all directions through an elaborate trough system.
The gravestone in question is within the Baugher family plot, only 15 yards from the fenced-in area known as the Potts Lot, one of the iconic landmarks of Mount Olivet. Maria Louisa Coppersmith’s marble grave has a commanding view of the burial grounds’ northernmost section, looking toward the heart of downtown Frederick City. Others buried in the Baugher Lot are Maria Louisa’s parents, Isaac (1787-1848) and Ann Elizabeth (Greenmyer) Baugher (1796-1876), brother Charles H. (1830-1912) and wife Meliora Ogle (Dahl) Baughman (1836-1926) and sister Emma C. Baughman (1843-1911).
Our cemetery records reveal that Charles was a veteran of the American Civil War where he served in the Union’s Potomac Home Brigade outfit as captain of Company D. He would die in his later home of Takoma Park in Montgomery County. Sister Emma was a nun, cloistered in Washington, D.C., the place of her death.
This family hailed from Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, and Maria Louisa Coppersmith’s great grandparents, Johann George Bager (1725-1791) and Anna Elizabeth Schwab are said to have given rise to all Baughers in the United States. The couple came from Giessen, Darmstadt, Germany in 1748 and sailed to America on a ship called the "Rawley" in 1752. The "u" and "h" were added to the Bager name upon arrival in North America, most likely thanks to immigration officials at the Port of Philadelphia, but that is likely an "old German wives' tale."
The Baugher emigrants settled in Berwick Township, Pennsylvania and had 13 children including Maria Louisa’s grandfather, John Christian Frederick Baugher (1754-1831). His son, Isaac Baugher, would reside in Emmitsburg and appears to have had a family farm in the northern Frederick County vicinity of Lantz, a crossroads intersection northwest of Thurmont along the road to Sabillasville (MD550).
Although not familiar with Maria Louisa and the Baugher family (outside of the successful orchard and produce operation of Westminster in neighboring Carroll County), I knew the name “Coppersmith” which has always made me think of Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and his famed novel David Copperfield. Of course, you may also say that I am reminded of the magician/illusionist by the same name of more recent times.
Dickens, the gentleman who gave us Ebenezer Scrooge in his legendary A Christmas Carol, penned this novel in the Bildungsroman genre and it is narrated by the eponymous David Copperfield, detailing adventures in his journey from infancy to maturity. What is Bildungsroman, you may ask? It is a literary style that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from childhood to adulthood in which character change is important.
This autobiographical novel is said to be “a very complicated weaving of truth and invention,” with events following Dickens’ own life. It was first published as a serial in 1849 and 1850 and as a book in 1850.
Now that we’ve introduced Maria Louisa’s evocative name, at least for me, how did she come about it? Maria Louisa’s husband was a man named Lewis Frederick Coppersmith. In attempting research here for this “Story in Stone,” I found him to have led a somewhat mysterious life, filled with plenty of “ups and downs.” Not nearly as fascinating as David Copperfield from an artistic bent, however Lewis' life typifies Bildungsroman from what I can gather. In a way, the same can be said of Maria Louisa Coppersmith as well. All this aside, I pondered the question of why this couple is not buried side by side, or in Mr. Coppersmith's case, not in Mount Olivet at all for that matter?
The character David Copperfield opens his autobiographical story with a question in which the author writes of himself: Will I be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show? This means that he does not know where his approach will lead him, that writing itself will be the test. As literary critic Paul Davis puts it, "In this Victorian quest narrative, the pen might be lighter than the sword, and the reader will be left to judge those qualities of the man and the writer that constitute heroism."
You be the judge in the cases of both Mr. and Mrs. Coppersmith. Here is more on their interesting life journeys.
Maria Louisa Baugher married Lewis F. Coppersmith on November 2nd, 1839 in Frederick. Her husband, the second of three known children, was born in 1813, a year before Dicken’s David Copperfield (1814). From as far as I can tell, Coppersmith was born in Georgetown and lived his early life in the District of Columbia. His father, Henry (1782-1815) was a native Marylander and I conjecture the son of George Coppersmith, and grandson of a John Coppersmith who once owned a property in the late 1700s in the area that would become Mechanicstown (later Thurmont). I found their land holding was called “Timber Plenty” (surveyed in 1764) and this bordered land belonging to Peter Appel, who provided land for the church and graveyard that still bear his name.
Lewis Frederick Coppersmith’s mother, Magdalena Eichelberger, also had definitive ties to northern Frederick County and, in particular, the Creagerstown area. Genealogists refer to her father as “Owens Creek” Frederick Eichelberger (1763-1838). Magdalena’s mother was related to the Motter family (for whom Motter Avenue was named) and originally from Emmitsburg.
Henry and Magdalena Coppersmith married in 1808 in Frederick and went on to have children John, Lewis Frederick and Mary Ann Coppersmith. Henry died in 1815, when Lewis was only 2. His son (Lewis Frederick) appears to have had a favorable upbringing in Georgetown however, despite the loss of his father. He was well-educated, and even had the opportunity to study law. This follows the wishes of Henry’s last will and testament, written shortly before his premature death, in which he specifically called for "the continuing care and education of his children."
From an old newspaper advertisement appearing in 1839, it appears that Lewis Frederick was involved in selling his Georgetown home, where he lived with his mother and sister, in exchange for western lands. He would marry Maria Louisa later the same year. This appears to have become a reality because Coppersmith can be found practicing law in Indiana by February, 1840. Apparently, Lewis had already been living out there, or commuting back and forth to the nation’s capital.
The newlyweds would take up home in Columbus, Indiana, located about 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis. This would later be the birthplace of two notable individuals: former Indiana governor and U.S. vice president Mike Pence and basketball sneaker designer Chuck Taylor. My impeccable research assistant, Marilyn Veek, also found the following tidbits on Mr. C:
“L.F. Coppersmith” is mentioned as publisher of the Columbus (IN) Advocate newspaper in 1837-1840. The January 8th, 1839 minutes of the Indiana Senate mention a petition from him and others “praying a change in the mode of doing county business in the county of Bartholomew.” In 1839, he was one of the superintendents for building the new courthouse in Columbus, and also a member of the bar there. He and others petitioned the Indiana legislature “praying sundry alterations in the act to incorporate the Columbus and Driftwood Bridge Company” – mentioned in relation to an act to incorporate the Columbus and Driftwood Bridge Company approved in 1839.
Here is an excerpt mentioning Mr. C. from The History of Bartholomew County, Indiana published in 1888:
Meanwhile, I found a document from the western land claims of the General Land Office in which Lewis held deed to 160 acres in Jeffersonville, (Bartholomew County) Indiana. The document was approved under the watchful eye of U.S. President James K. Polk. Another interesting purchase, closer to home, would follow.
The Baltimore Sun newspaper identified Lewis Coppersmith as having purchased the Frederick Town Herald newspaper in 1849. We could not find an official deed however. Regardless, the Coppersmiths came back east to Frederick at this time. They can be found in the 1850 US Census living with Maria Louisa’s mother Ann Baugher. Was this move precipitated by the Herald opportunity, family ties, or both? Most likely it was caused by the death of Maria Louisa's father, Isaac Baugher, who died in 1848. I found an advertisement in a Washington, D.C. newspaper which showed that he had considerable holdings in the nation's capital, and this makes me wonder if the Coppersmiths met in Frederick or D.C. originally?
Maria Louisa’s mother lived here in the building known as the Hahn house, on the northwest corner of East Church and Maxwell Alley (then known as Middle Alley). This is across from Heritage Frederick and next to the parsonage of Evangelical Lutheran Church.
At this time (1850), Lewis’ mom (Magdalena) and sister can be found living with Eichelberger relatives in Creagerstown.
Back in Frederick, Lewis F. Coppersmith would purchase a property just one block to the west of his home. This would be located on the northwest corner of Market and Church streets. He made this acquisition in the same year of 1850.
Now, I have come across Coppersmith’s name several times in past research associated with downtown Frederick, originally seeing it in connection with a location named the Coppersmith Building, and more distinctly, “Coppersmith Hall.” This became a place where political meetings, and convalescing soldiers, were held during the American Civil War. More on all this in a minute.
In my current job, I’ve read that Mr. Coppersmith was one of the charter members of the cemetery. He served on Mount Olivet’s founding Board of Directors from October 4th, 1852-May 7th, 1860. His cousin, Grayson Eichelberger (1822-1870), was also a charter member and served through to his death in 1870. Grayson doubled as Lewis F. Coppersmith’s brother-in-law as well, marrying Maria Louisa’s sister Amanda Baugher. The Eichelbergers are buried in the adjoining lot to Maria Louisa Coppersmith’s grave.
By 1852, Lewis also found himself on the board of visitors for the Frederick Female Seminary and chairman of a committee responsible for raising funds for a stone foundation needed to build the new All Saints Church on West Church Street. I’m assuming he was a member of this congregation as well. Mrs. Coppersmith, however, belonged to the Lutheran church to my knowledge.
Back to Coppersmith’s structure located at what today is 101 North Market Street, and also referred to as the “Herald Buildings” in early accounts. Researcher and author Terry Reimer did a wonderful job documenting the Civil War era history of this building in her 2001 book, One Vast Hospital: The Civil War Hospital Sites in Frederick, Maryland after Antietam. She explains that Coppersmith Hall was a three-story brick building erected in 1851 by its namesake. He published the Frederick Town Herald in the section of the building that faced Church Street. The piece that faced Market was utilized as a billiard saloon and auction house.
I must add that Mr. C purchased another parcel at the southeast corner of Carroll and All Saints streets. In 1856, he apparently operated a barrel manufacturing facility here. Coppersmith had mortgaged the Market Street property to Farmers & Mechanics Bank a few months before he bought this Carroll Street property. Between 1855 and 1858 he borrowed money, both as promissory notes and mortgages, from local farmer/businessman John Loats, Central Bank, Union Bank of Baltimore and Fredericktown Savings. Despite this, in 1857, he apparently owed money (mortgage) to William L.W. Seabrook for the Fredericktown Herald (We didn't find an earlier deed for Coppersmith owning the Herald). Two of the mortgages to John Loats included not only real estate, but the barrel manufacturing equipment.
By 1858, Coppersmith found himself indebted to John Loats for over $14,000. He sought relief under the "Act for Insolvent Debtors" and as a result lost both of his commercial properties. Market Street (Coppersmith Hall) was sold to John Loats and (brother-in-law) Grayson Eichelberger for $6,900, and the Carroll Street facility to John Sifford. The newspaper's printing press and equipment to John Wilson Heard, a southern sympathizer.
With such great promise ahead of him as a member of Frederick's upper-crust, Lewis Frederick Coppersmith found himself an outsider, and was insolvent by 1860. He had to reinvent himself elsewhere.
Lewis had a legacy that would live on, however. I found several instances of Union rally meetings being held in the spacious second floor of Coppersmith’s former building, definitely giving rise to the moniker “Coppersmith’s Hall.” This group began assembling on Wednesday nights, beginning in 1860, under the title of the National Union League of Frederick.
When Frederick was selected as a military depot in August 1861, the building was used for storage of military supplies. The upper floors were used as barracks for the Provost Guard by 1861. As early as June, 1862, the building would be utilized to handle the overflow of patients that could not be accommodated at the Barracks Hospital. The Frederick Female Seminary’s Winchester Hall and this location served as the only non-churches of a group of buildings comprising General Hospital #3.
So, what now for the Coppersmiths? Did Lewis simply fall back on his legal career? Since he had left the Board at Mount Olivet in May, 1860, I felt this was a pivot point of change for him. Embarrassed by his business failings, would he consider going elsewhere? How had Maria Louisa been dealing with the financial woes of her husband? Was she playing the role of the “long-suffering wife?”
As Frederick hosted the Maryland General Assemble at a location cata-corner from Coppersmith’s Hall (Kemp Hall) in the summer of 1861, the winds of war would blow on Frederick the coming year. Meanwhile, L. F. Coppersmith "of Indiana" was appointed a clerk in the Office of the Secretary of the Treasury in January, 1862. He departed Frederick for Washington, D.C. at a very interesting time and apparently took up residence there in some capacity.
Interestingly, Maria Louisa Coppersmith continued to reside here in Frederick. I questioned this at first, but recalled seeing Lewis Coppersmith’s name often as a hotel guest in Washington throughout the mid-1850s. Now as a clerk for the Treasury Department, perhaps he just commuted back and forth as many do today between Frederick and D.C., however the transportation of the time made it impractical for daily sojourns. Maybe he was gathering political news for his paper at the time.
In the census records, Maria Louisa Coppersmith is listed as a clerk also, but was this for the Herald newspaper her husband was publishing, or his law practice, or somewhere else like the Frederick Courthouse? I may never know, but I discovered she was doing something much more admirable here during the Civil War.
From an article found in late April, 1864, she was listed among the women of town playing an active role in administering aid to wounded and sick soldiers. I instantly thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be fitting if she did this at Coppersmith Hall location?”
As I was wrapping up research for this piece, I accidentally stumbled upon something very fascinating. A gentleman named James Fritsch published a book in 2017 entitled Shadow Marching: A Writer’s Journey into the Civil War. I discovered this simply through a Google search on Coppersmith and the Civil War. Mr. Fritsch set out to follow in the footsteps of the 29th Ohio Infantry Regiment organized in Columbus, Ohio. His journeys while researching and writing this book brought him to Frederick as the outfit was given the duty of guarding the B & O Railroad bridge over the Monocacy River among other things. One soldier that Mr. Fritsch mentions is Nathan L. Parmater, a private assigned to Company E of the 29th.
Back home before the war, Parmater, a native of New York, was “a country school-teacher and part-time student at Kingsville Academy (Kingsville, OH) back home in the Buckeye state. He also was the chief diarist of the 29th and would later be promoted to commissary sergeant by war's end. In September of 1862, Pvt. Nathan Parmater would be brought to Frederick City by army ambulance, and took up quarters at the Coppersmith Hall hospital. Fritsch says that: “he was carried on a stretcher so sick he was unable to sit up. It was here that he was nursed back from the near-dead, and by the time he left here he was well-enough again to continue the war.”
Coppersmith Hall is shown in this lithograph of Frederick appearing in Harpers Weekly in the fall of 1862. Confederate soldiers can be seen marching down Market Street during the invasion of early September of that year. The Hall is partially obscured by Trinity Chapel's iconic steeple and on the northwest corner of Market and Church streets as has been established
Parmater and the wounded of Antietam were placed on the first floor, former site of the billiard parlor, with large windows facing Market Street in which he could watch townspeople shuffle by, farmers bringing their goods to the market house across the street and army wagons, ambulances and soldiers passing by. The Ohio soldier was treated for two maladies that fall and winter, typhoid fever from October 1st through December 30th. After a furlough home, he returned to Frederick after the New Year of 1863 only to fall sick again with “adhesion of pleura.” He’d be laid up until February 23rd.
In his diary, the soldier credits two women with saving his life and said that without their attention he might have died. He wrote of one of them while his company was in Kentucky at war’s end waiting to be mustered out of service, recounting his experience. Here he had business with the quartermaster of a camp in Bardstown who shared a name familiar with one of his guardian angel attendants back in Frederick. The soldier’s name was Coppersmith, and apparently this gentleman was a relative of Maria Louisa in some capacity, but the author (Fritsch) could not make a definitive identification.
Parmater wrote that in June of 1863, the 29th had the opportunity to pass through Frederick once again, this time en-route to Gettysburg. He desired to sneak into town and thank Mrs. Coppersmith, whom he called “Mother Copper,” in person for his full recovery. He would not have the chance because the army was moving too fast. His diary states that our subject, Maria Louisa Coppersmith, is said to have brought Sgt. Parmater chicken stew, sweet potatoes, and strong tea.
Back in Kentucky in July of 1865, the Quartermaster’s officer informed Parmater that he was too late for a personal thank you as his “Mother Copper” had died. In Fritsch’s words “she had worn herself out not only nursing Parmater, but many other boys."
Maria Louisa died on July 4th, 1864. The significance of this date goes without saying. However, it has unique importance here in Frederick because Confederate Gen. Jubal A Early would bring his Rebel Army here just days later and ransomed the town for $200,000. The stage was set for more war casualties thanks to the Battle of Monocacy fought at the location south of town which Parmater and his colleagues of the Ohio 29th had secured two years previously.
Even without easy access to the Frederick Town Herald of that time period, I did locate a major obituary for Maria Louisa Coppersmith as printed in the July 27th edition of the Frederick Examiner. This rival newspaper of her husband’s former publication was printed at a location directly across West Church Street from Coppersmith Hall on the southeast corner of Market and Church. This site plays home to today’s Orchard Restaurant.
I’m not sure who wrote this beautiful tribute. Could it have been her husband? Regardless, Maria Louisa’s body was brought to Mount Olivet for burial on July 6th, 1864 and placed within the Baugher family lot where the stone still stands today.
Marilyn Veek also found, for me, a book written by Herman H. Barbour, a former Indiana legislator and friend to the Coppersmiths from their Indiana days. He mentions Lewis Coppersmith both as living in Columbus, Indiana in 1848 (when his wife apparently stayed with the Coppersmiths) and in Frederick (where the Barbours visited the Coppersmiths in 1856). In this 1856 visit, Mrs. Barbour says in a letter home to her son Joseph:
"We left Washington, Monday afternoon at four o'clock, and at seven stopped at Frederick, Maryland, at the house of a Mr. Coppersmith, with whose family we were intimately acquainted in Columbus. They are wealthy, live in a fine, large house, and keep slaves; though I think they are very kind to them, for they are good, Christian people, and love everybody. We found them very glad to see us, and we had an excellent visit there, though short, for your papa thought we must leave the next morning."
Herman H. Barbour also includes a beautiful letter written by Maria Louisa Coppersmith upon the death of Barbour's wife:
In July 1864, I expected Lewis Coppersmith to be in Washington, D.C., the town the Battle of Monocacy saved. Instead, I found an IRS tax assessment that had him listed as a peddler first class living in Indianapolis, Indiana in July, 1864. I really found this puzzling, and perhaps it explains why Maria Louisa dedicated her life to helping others. Had Lewis “flown the coop,” perhaps humiliated by his business defeats simply ran away and abandoned his wife as well? Another factor comes with a shocking discovery found in The Washington Evening Star in September, 1863 while Lewis was clerking in Washington, D.C.
There is certainly more to this story that needs to be uncovered. However, that seems to be part of Lewis’ issues, he needed to stay "covered," at least in public! I bring you back to the beginning of our story and the genre of Bildungsroman, the literary style that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from childhood to adulthood in which character change is important. At least Maria Louisa's life ended on a high note.
I could not find a death record or gravestone for Lewis. On August 11th, 1869, his name is included in a newspaper’s list of unclaimed letters at the LaFayette, Indiana post office. The last record I could find was that of L.F. Coppersmith, a 55-year-old farmer born in Maryland, living in Spice Valley township, Lawrence County, Indiana in the 1870 census. Interestingly, as this is the last trace I could find of Coppersmith, 1870 marks the year of Charles Dickens' death.
As for Coppersmith Hall, it would carry Lewis’ name long after the lone decade it was in his ownership. The Civil War usage shows that once the building was no longer needed as a hospital site, John Loats and Grayson Eichelberger continued to rent part of the property for government offices throughout the war. In September 1864, the occupants of the building included: Provost Guard offices on the first floor facing Church Street, tobacco store on the corner, and an auction room on the first floor facing Market Street. The Quartermaster’s Offices and the Collector of Internal Revenue office were positioned on the second floor. Additional Quartermaster’s Offices could be found on the third floor.
Loats and Eichelberger sold the property to Lawrence Bentz in early 1866. The building was demolished in 1912 in order to erect the present Rosenour building. This would house many interesting businesses in its future ranging from clothing stores to restaurants. The footprint of the room in which Sgt. Nathan Parmater, from the 29th Ohio, recuperated in behind large glass windows, now hosts diners frequenting The Tasting Room. Perhaps the spirits of Maria Louisa and Lewis Frederick Coppersmith still linger?
Meanwhile, what ever happened to Nathan L. Parmater as he, perhaps, had the most fascinating and "David Copperfield-esque life of all, thanks in part to the selflessness of "Mother Copper," Maria Louisa Coppersmith? A biography of him appears in a Michigan history book and reads as follows:
"NATHAN L. PARMATER, M. D. has the distinction of being, in point of years of practice, the oldest physician in Otsego County. He came hither in April, 1873, prior to the organization of the county, and selected a homestead on the southeast quarter of section 18, Livingston Township. In the fall of the same year he was joined by his wife, who was the first lady to locate on a homestead in this locality. At that time there were no settlers in the township and but few families in the county. His was the task of the pioneer, that of evolving from the dense forests a comfortable abode and of assisting in the material development of the county. That he was successful in his efforts subsequent events have clearly proved. He is now the owner of one hundred and sixty acres of farmland, containing substantial buildings and other improvements, and situated four and one-half miles from the village of Gaylord, which was platted in the fall of 1873. In 1888 he removed from the old homestead to the adjoining town, and here he has since continued the practice of his profession.
In the village of Louisville, St. Lawrence County, N. Y., the subject of this notice was born September 2, 1835, being the son of Charles and Rhoda (Stone) Parmater, natives, respectively, of Massachusetts and Vermont. His maternal grandfather, Col. Nathan Stone, served in the War of the Revolution, winning in that conflict the title by which he was afterward known. The father of our subject early became dependent upon his own resources, and, leaving home, began the life of a farmer. He spent his entire active life in New York, with the exception of two years in Ashtabula County, Ohio. When more than eighty years of age his death occurred in St. Lawrence County, N. Y. His wife had died many years previously, at the age of forty-nine.
In the parental family there were five sons and three daughters, of whom the eldest, Charles, died in Tuscola County, Mich.; Elizabeth married Asel Stafford, and died in Rock County, Wis.; Eunice, Mrs. George Douglas, died in Sauk County. Wis.; Rhoda became the wife of Roswell Stone, and died in Rock County, Wis.; John W. is a farmer of Chesterfield County. Va.; William is engaged in agricultural pursuits in Otsego County ; our subject is the next in order of birth; Harvey W., the youngest, died during the Civil War, while serving in an Ohio battery.
The early years of our subject were uneventfully passed upon a farm. Until the age of twenty his educational advantages were limited, but he then entered an academy in Ashtabula County, Ohio, and for some time thereafter conducted his studies with diligence and success. Soon after the opening of the Civil War, in September, 1861, he became a member of Company E, Twenty-ninth Ohio Infantry, and served for three years and ten months, during all of that time being a non-commissioned officer. The first important engagement in which he took part was that of Winchester, March 23, 1862. Then followed the battles of Port Republic, Va., June 9; Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862; the three-day engagement at Chancellorsville, May 1-3; and the battle of Gettysburg, July 2 and 3, 1863.
Soon after the battle of Gettysburg, our subject was sent to Ohio to secure new recruits, and rejoined his regiment in December, 1863, at Lookout Mountain, but soon afterward returned home on a veteran's furlough. He took part in the Atlanta campaign, and after the fall of that city he went to the sea with General Sherman, thence journeyed northward to Washington, and in April, 1865, participated in the Grand Review. His discharge was received in July, 1865. He was never wounded but once, that being at Port Republic, June 9, 1862.
After the close of the war, our subject took a course of lectures in the Homeopathic College at Cleveland, graduating in 1867. He then opened an office at Conneaut, Ohio, but in 1868 removed to Reedsburg, Wis., where he remained one year. On coming to Michigan, he practiced his profession in Genesee and Tuscola Counties before locating in Otsego County. While at Reedsburg, Wis., he was united in marriage, in the spring of 1869, with Miss Violet A. Tinkum, who was born in St. Lawrence County, N. Y. They have one child, Vieva S., at present a student in Albion College.
Socially the Doctor has been Master of the home Masonic lodge. In the Grand Army he has served as Past Commander of C. F. Doore Post No. 61, and one of his greatest pleasures is to meet with the veterans of the war, and recall the thrilling experiences of those days of civil strife. He is a stockholder in the Savings Bank and has other important interests in Gaylord. He is a man whom his fellow-citizens respect and admire, and their opinion of his ability is proved by their frequent selection of him as their representative and leader in important measures. He was the first Probate Judge of Otsego County, and upon several occasions filled the position of Township Supervisor, and a member of the Village Council. Few men have been so closely identified with the history of Otsego County as has he, and his name is entitled to perpetuation in its annals.
(Portrait and Biographical Record of Northern Michigan : Containing Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, Together with Biographies of All the Presidents of the United States. Chicago: Record Publishing Company, 1895. Pages 347-348.)
Happy “Shark Week” from Mount Olivet Cemetery! I can practically guarantee that this salutation has never been uttered by a human being ever before in the history of the world.
It’s late July and we find ourselves once again in the midst of this unadulterated, yearly celebration of the cartilage-based fish possessing an infamous reputation akin to seafaring pirates of yore. For those unfamiliar with what I’m talking about here, Shark Week is an annual, week-long TV programming block found on the Discovery Channel, which features shark-based tv shows and documentaries. Now, mind you, I didn’t have this year’s event on my calendar or smartphone (July 24-30th, 2022). I was reminded this past Sunday morning while sitting on the beach in Fenwick Island, Delaware by a blimp.
In researching for this week’s “Story in Stone,” I learned that Shark Week originally premiered on July 17th, 1988 and is featured each year in either July or early August. It was originally devoted to highlight conservation efforts and correcting misconceptions about sharks. Over time, and with a keen marketing approach, the yearly “feeding-frenzy” of programming grew in popularity, becoming a major hit on the Discovery Channel, which is based just down the road in Bethesda. Since 2010, Shark Week has been the longest-running cable-television programming event in history and is broadcast in over 72 countries.
After seeing that blimp overhead last weekend, I wondered if there was any way I could connect Shark Week to Mount Olivet? I have written about sharks before as they hold a unique connection to me as my son Eddie had the nickname of “Sharky” as a toddler—dating back to his days swimming around as a fetus. Seriously, as my wife and I chose not to know the sex of our child until birth. I refused to simply refer to the future child as “baby” in conversation, thinking it needed a nickname with frankly more bite. I also named my side “research for hire” business History Shark Productions, thus making me either the History Shark, or at least part of a legion or fraternity of “History Sharks.”
So, my literary search for the dreaded “Great White” began right there on the beach. I began my search with our Mount Olivet database of interments and received “no bites.” I then scoured the Find-a-Grave.com page for Mount Olivet with a similar result. I then began thinking on national terms in an attempt to spark my creative juices.
I certainly sailed off-course and soon found myself in troubled waters as I had landed on a unique Find-a-Grave tribute page of shark attack victims. This was compiled by an individual named Lashelle Childress and had absolutely everything to do with maneaters and cemeteries, but nothing to do with Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland. I decided to read further anyway.
There are only a handful of names on this page, but three are in Monmouth County, New York. One such was Charles Bruder, a 28-year-old native of Switzerland, and former soldier in the Swiss Army. At the time of his death, he was employed as the Bell Captain at the Essex and Sussex Hotel at Spring Lake. Mr. Bruder was the 2nd victim of the infamous "Jersey Maneater Shark Attacks" of 1916. He was attacked by the shark, which bit off both his feet before he was rescued by the hotel shore patrol. He died on the beach from loss of blood and shock.
Lester Stillwell was a 12 year-old boy who went swimming with friends in the Matawan Creek (Matawan, NJ) on the afternoon of July 12th (1916). As his pals watched in horror, young Lester was brutally attacked by a shark (still unknown as to what kind) and killed. Townsfolk quickly gathered at the creek and several men attempted to find Lester's body. One of the men, Watson Stanley Fisher, 24 years old, actually found Lester's body when he, himself, was attacked. Stanley died 12 hours later that day from blood loss from his wound, while Lester's body was discovered two days later. Because of his bravery and sacrifice, Stanley is remembered as a hero. Both he and Lester were buried on July 15th, 1916 at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Matawan.
A gentleman named Dr. Richard Fernicola wrote a book about these tragic deaths entitled, "Twelve Days of Terror" about the shark attacks of 1916 along the Jersey Shore and in Matawan Creek. Four people would be killed or injured between July 1st and 12th. The event can be seen as the very first “Shark Week,” you could say, and took place against a backdrop of a deadly summer heat wave and polio epidemic in the United States that drove thousands of people to the seaside resorts of the Jersey Shore. Since 1916, scholars have debated which shark species was responsible and the number of animals involved, with the great white shark and the bull shark most frequently cited.
Personal and national reaction to the fatalities involved a wave of panic that led to shark hunts aimed at eradicating the population of "man-eating" sharks and protecting the economies of New Jersey's seaside communities. Resort towns enclosed their public beaches with steel nets to protect swimmers. Scientific knowledge about sharks before 1916 was based on conjecture and speculation. The attacks forced ichthyologists to reassess common beliefs about the abilities of sharks and the nature of shark incidents of a violent nature.
The Jersey Shore attacks immediately entered into American popular culture, where sharks became caricatures in editorial cartoons representing danger. The assaults became the subject of documentaries for the History Channel, National Geographic Channel, and Discovery Channel, which aired 12 Days of Terror (2004) and the Shark Week episode Blood in the Water (2009).
Sufficed to say, my reservations about getting back in the water were “short-lived,” pardon the pun, but I was sure glad to be on the beaches of “Lower, Slower” Delaware than New Jersey, or, worse yet, Amity, Long Island, New York. The latter was the fictional site of the “Jaws” novel by Peter Benchley, and subsequent movie directed by Stephen Spielberg. These two offerings captured my imagination as a youth, as it did countless others, upon its release in the mid-1970s. That summer of 1975 had everyone going to the beach on high alert as the movie was released on June 20th.
On a lighter, and related, note, exploration of Find-a-Grave.com led me to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s historic Allegheny Cemetery where there is as unique a tombstone as you will ever see.
This marks the grave of Korean War veteran Lester C. Madden—self-proclaimed to be one of the biggest “Jaws” movie fans in the world. Mr. Madden was buried under a stone shaped like the iconic great white from the book’s cover and movie posters.
I was certainly envious of Allegheny Cemetery for having such a stone, and told that to my history assistant, Marilyn Veek, upon my return to the office earlier this week. However, she brought to my attention the presence of a shark-themed gravestone in our midst here in Mount Olivet. It is located in Area TJ/Lot 87. Here, one can find the touching tribute to an 8-year-old who, I assume, had a great fascination with the Elasmobranchii family of which sharks belong. This is the final resting place of Mark Anthony Marketon, who passed away the day after Christmas in 2018. The Rockville native died at Johns Hopkins Hospital of an undisclosed illness.
Mark Anthony’s gravesite, like Mr. Madden’s in Pittsburgh, is surely something to behold, and will keep his memory alive to cemetery visitors long into the future. Among the notable features are a photo collage, a glass front compartment housing favorite toys, and two renderings of sharks—a Great White and the silhouette of a hammerhead.
I could not find any other sharks, but fish abound on gravestones throughout the newer sections of Mount Olivet. These are commonly chosen to designate avid outdoorsman or those desiring the religious connotation employing the symbol frequently used by early Christian writers in the Gospels to mean resurrection and infinity thereafter.
Another thing that many sharks, and visitors to a cemetery, can encounter, are anchors. These “boat holders” typically symbolize hope and steadfastness, often serving as a symbol for Christ and his anchoring influence upon the lives of Christians. In coastal areas, the anchor also serves as a symbol for nautical professions and commonly mark the graves of dedicated seaman. Sometimes, the anchor can also be disguised as a cross to guide the way to secret meeting places. Much like the Victorian iconography of a broken column, an anchor with a severed chain represents death, in most cases prematurely.
Two of our past Stories in Stone are shining examples of this as they tell the stories of two seafarers buried here in Mount Olivet: Captain Herman D. Ordeman and U.S. Naval engineer George A. Dean. Both fine monuments can be found in Area A.
A few weeks back, a few gravestones connecting to a naval profession caught my attention. I was not far from Confederate Row, when I was pulled into a family plot in Area H, listed as Lot 506. Here lie seven members of the Cassin family.
No anchors, fish or sharks for that matter, can be found on any stones. Truth be told, there are no symbols or memorable designs whatsoever. However, three of the six stones certainly beckon the sea in respect to the U.S. Navy and a former leading member of that branch. Problem is, this gentleman is buried elsewhere.
These stones proudly express a familial relationship with Commodore Stephen Cassin (1783-1857), a native of Philadelphia who is buried at the famed Arlington National Cemetery. Here we have buried Commodore Cassin’s son, John Cassin (1838-1903), and grandson, John Stephen Cassin (1870-1895). Interestingly, John Cassin was married to Alice Schley (1839-1911), daughter of Col. Edward Schley and great-granddaughter of one of our Frederick Town founders—German immigrant John Thomas Schley (1712-1790) and wife Margaret Wintz.
While Col. Schley had nothing to do with water in a military sense, he even got the proverbial "shout-out" on this gravestone too. Col. Schley's brother, Winfield Scott Schley, had everything to do with H2O as his career was based on it. Alice (Schley) Cassin’s first cousin, Winfield, was born in 1839 in Frederick at Richfields plantation, just north of Frederick City and along US Route 15. Just look for the billboard saying so along the highway and across from Beckley’s Motel and east of Homewood Retirement Community.
Richfields was the original homeplace of Gov. Thomas Johnson, Jr. before he moved in with his daughter at Rose Hill Manor after losing his wife. Interestingly, Winfield Scott Schley’s mother would die at Richfields as well along with some of Winfield’s siblings. This supposedly spooked his father, John Thomas Schley, Jr. (1808-1876), who began to question the safety of drinking water on the property. This precipitated John to move his family to downtown Frederick—200 East Church Street to be exact, on the southeast corner as it intersects Chapel Alley. Winfield attended St. John’s Catholic School across the street from his home, and then went off to the US Naval Academy in Annapolis where he graduated in 1860. He served in the American Civil War and eventually rose to the rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy and the hero of the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War. He died in 1911 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery as well as the forementioned Stephen Cassin.
Admiral Schley’s parents (John Thomas, Jr. and Georgianna) were farmers and are buried in Mount Olivet’s Area P, along with several of his siblings. In neighboring Area F/Lot 41, one can find Admiral Schley's uncle, Col. Edward Schley, father of Alice (Schley) Cassin.
I’m assuming that Winfield Scott Schley was well aware of the exploits of his cousin’s father-in-law. (Stephen Cassin). Perhaps old Admiral Schley was responsible for the introduction between cousin Alice and Commodore Cassin’s son John Cassin. We may never know, but I found it interesting that these cousins have the same vital dates by year.
Before we look at John Cassin a bit closer, I’d like to share some information on his father Stephen Cassin (Feb 16, 1783-August 29th, 1857). He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery's Section 1, Grave 299.
Here is what his biography on FindaGrave.com says:
United States Naval Officer. He began his Navy service in 1800, when he was appointed as a Midshipman. He took part in the Barbary Wars, and had risen to Lieutenant by the outbreak of the War of 1812. Sent to serve under Commodore Theodore MacDonough in Lake Champlain, he assisted in building up American Naval forces there, and was given command of the “USS Ticonderoga”. He performed well at the September 11, 1814 Battle of Lake Champlain, directing his ship as it fended off British attacks and a boarding party. Commended by Commodore MacDonough, Stephen Cassin was awarded a Gold Medal by the United States Congress a month later for his performance. He ended the war with the rank of Master Commandant. Remaining in the Navy, he achieved the rank of Captain in 1825, and Commodore in 1830. In 1822, while in command of the “USS Peacock”, he captured and destroyed a number of pirate vessels that had been preying on shipping in the West Indies.
Stephen Cassin died in 1857, and was originally interred in Georgetown, DC. He was subsequently removed to Arlington National Cemetery, where his remains lie in Section 1. Two United States Navy Destroyers have been named “USS Cassin” after him – DD-43, which served during World War I, and DD-372, which was heavily damaged at Pearl Harbor, but was salvaged and won six battle stars during World War II.
Our John Cassin was named for his grandfather who also experienced a storied career with the US Navy. This gentleman, John Cassin (1760-1822) was born in Philadelphia and buried in St. Mary of the Annunciation Catholic Chirch Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina.
Little is known of John Cassin's early life, but what is known reveals he fought in the Revolution as early as 1777 participating in the Battle of Trenton and continuing his service with the Army until he became a First Mate as a Pennsylvania Privateer on board the "Mayflower" on June 27, 1782. After the Revolution Cassin became a merchant seaman, twice being shipwrecked near the turn of the century it became necessary to increase the size of the Navy due to the ongoing Barbary pirate attacks along with other potential threats. He enlisted as a Lieutenant on November 13, 1799. On April 6,1806 he was promoted to Master Commandant and became second in command of the Washington Navy Yard. On July 3, 1812 he was promoted to Captain, then the highest rank in the United States Navy. During the War of 1812-1815 he led the United States Navy in the Delaware for the defense of Philadelphia. He was also the Commanding Officer of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard from August 10, 1812 until June 1, 1821 when he was chosen to be the Commanding Officer of the Southern Naval station based at Charleston, South Carolina.
The Crawford-Cassin House still stands in Georgetown at 3017 O Street. Built in 1818, the gardens of the property once extended to 30th Street to the east and to P Street on the north. The house is still accessible from P Street by a private driveway. Early in the 20th century the building was altered and enlarged to be used as a private school. Today it is again a private residence, which recently sold for $13 million dollars.
Our subject, John Cassin, was born in Washington, D.C. on June 20th, 1838. The Cassin family was living in style in Georgetown in the 1850 US Census. I will venture to say that perhaps John was sent to Frederick’s St. John’s Academy for his schooling as this would explain the opportunity to meet his future wife, and perhaps Winfield Scott Schley was a classmate, and better yet, a friend.
In 1860, while Schley was graduating from the Naval Academy, young John Cassin had taken a different path in life away from military service. He is listed as a farmer and living in a downtown hotel operated by Michael Zimmerman. By 1870, he appears to be farming his own farmstead north of town in the Yellow Springs area. Further research showed that John bought a 100-acre farm on Yellow Springs Rd (in the deed the road was called Spout Springs turnpike) in 1859, but would lose it to bankruptcy in 1873. He had 3 mortgages on the property, 1 to H D Ordeman, 1 to William White, and 1 to Nathan Neighbours and B. H. Schley (presumably Major Benjamin Henry Schley, Alice's brother). My assistant Marilyn gave me the idea that Alice's parents or other relatives could have played a role in influencing them to buy the farm, since "Dr. Fairfax Schley" owned properties nearby. The area of Cassin's farm is now the Clover Hill development.
John and Alice would raise four children into adulthood: Margaret “Maggie” B. (b. 1862); Edward Schley (b. 1864); Anna “Nannie” Affordby (b. 1869) and John Stephen (b. 1870). By 1880, he had traded in his plough for a pencil. His family moved back to his old hometown of Georgetown. and he was employed as a clerk for the US Navy Department. I’m guessing this occurred around 1873, likely as a result of the bankruptcy. However, this was the same year that marked the death of his father. I found later that he started in his employment with the Navy that same year.
John and Alice’s daughter Nannie died of Typhoid fever at age 18. She would be laid to rest back here in Frederick next to her father’s sister, Olivia (1842-1867), who had died in 1867 at age 25. Two years later (1869), two of John and Alice’s children were reburied here in the family plot. Through Ancestry.com, I found one of these was Alice Cassin (March 22, 1865-Dec 4, 1869). Another son, John Stephen, would die in 1895 (aged 25) of Typhoid fever like his sister.
In 1900 the John Cassin family was living on 23rd Street in Northwest D.C. I found a US Navy employee U.S., Register of Civil, Military, and Naval Service directory from July 1903 which shows both John and son Edward working as clerks for the Navy Department. Coincidence or plain old nepotism, you be the judge? However, one cannot deny that those Cassins had great connections to naval heroes.
John Cassin died five months later on December 4th, 1903. His mortal remains came back to Frederick for burial. From his obituary, I was excited to learn that Admiral Schley had attended his funeral service.
Alice would die in May, 1911 as mentioned earlier. Her son possessing her Schley maiden name, Edward, died of nephritis less than 16 years later and is buried here in the family plot as well. Margaret B. (Cassin) Gladmon passed in 1926.
It might not be obvious to the casual visitor, but this family certainly was connected to the sea through familial connections. If anything else, they sure were proud of the Commodore. Maybe it's because they knew their life blessings could be attributed to his fame? Who knows?
That's it, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Not quite Shark Week material, but neither is receiving writing inspiration from a blimp at the beach when you get right down to it. Unless, of course, that blimp has sharks all over it.
I bet little Mark Anthony Marketon would have really got a kick out of seeing that contraption flying overhead.
After last week’s “Story in Stone,” I was “jonesing” for a more sizable grave monument to write about. As I was driving into the office earlier in the week and pondering what to write about this week, my eye caught one among the thousands available to me. This is located along the cemetery's central drive and across from the fenced-in Potts Lot in Mount Olivet’s Area E. This locale is one of the highest elevations in the cemetery, and Frederick City for that matter thus heightening the monument in my mind in a subconscious way too, perhaps?
I soon learned that this fine specimen belongs to a family with an ancient Scottish surname from the Celtic term “boidhe”—meaning fair complected or yellow (blonde). The name apparently derives from a Scottish historical figure named “Boyt” or “Boyd.”
So, just who was this dude “Boyd,” whose birth name was Robert? Well, he was the fair-complected son of Simon, and grandson of Alan Flaad the Younger, a favorite of King Henry I of England. Alan (the Younger) was the son of a guy named Flathald, aka Alan fitz Flaad (c. 1078 – after 1121), a Breton knight, likely recruited as a mercenary by Henry I in his conflicts with his own brothers. Flathald’s son (Alan) became a diligent advisor to the king and obtained large estates in Norfolk, Sussex, Shropshire, and elsewhere in the Midlands, including the feudal barony and castle of Oswestry in Shropshire. His duties included supervision of the Welsh border. Got it?
Scottish history claims that Robert/Boidhe died sometime before 1240 but his moniker would live on as a surname through descendants, eventually anglicized to “Boyd.” Over 500 years, and many generations later, a descendant named Andrew Boyd was born on September 25th, 1745. Interestingly, his birthdate was just two weeks after the official founding date of Frederick Town by Annapolis investor Daniel Dulany.
Little is known of this gentleman, but I'm guessing he was likely pale-skinned and/or possessed blonde hair. Whatever the case of his appearance, he would make his way to the New World, and eventually made it to Frederick, Maryland. Andrew Boyd hailed from Balmerino, Fife, Scotland, a small farming village and former monastic center by the estuary of the River Tay. It is the home of Balmerino Abbey and former abbots of Balmerino who were great regional landlords. It became a secular lordship at the beginning of the 17th century and fell into ruin. (Click here for a short slideshow of vintage photographs of Balmerino).
I came across a note on an Ancestry.com family tree regarding his departure from Scotland in 1770 and apparent arrival in New Jersey. The water became quite murky for me at this point, as it was tough finding additional info on this particular Andrew Boyd through my usual resources. He is not buried here in Mount Olivet, however a Find-a-Grave.com memorial page places him within our Mount Olivet online collection on the popular website.
I did, however, find a plethora of information on Andrew’s son, David, and several grandchildren buried here in the shadow of some substantial monuments—including another Andrew, named in the immigrant Boyd’s honor.
Meanwhile, our cemetery records show the re-interment of a woman named Margaret (Dundas) Boyd who died in 1774. She is buried in the mass grave on Area MM. This gravesite is certainly associated with the major removal project undertaken in 1913 with the old All Saints’ Protestant Episcopal burial ground once located between East All Saints’ Street and Carroll Creek.
Speaking of All Saints’ Church and Cemetery, many may be familiar with the local parish history book by Ernest Helfenstein, with a second edition published in 1991. This was edited by an old acquaintance of mine whose family ran a landmark business on North Market Street for generations under the moniker of Hendrickson’s.
Of course, I’m talking of Carroll H. Hendrickson, Jr. (1920-2013), who operated the ladies clothing store his grandfather began in 1877. Carroll was a meticulous researcher who introduced me to the many resources at the Maryland Historical Society. He performed continuous work with the Historical Society of Frederick, the Maryland Episcopal Church Archives and, of course, his beloved All Saints’ Episcopal Church. Carroll graciously assisted me with my 1995 history of Frederick video documentary, Frederick Town, and appeared as an on-camera commentator.
Imagine my surprise when I found an online genealogy piece on the Boyd family of Frederick authored by my old friend while performing a Google search. Here’s what Carroll had to say:
The background of the Andrew Boyd who married Mary MacKay in Frederick, Maryland, on 25 June 1783 has yet to be determined. Attempts to connect Andrew to the several Andrew and Mary Boyds in Cumberland, York, and Adams counties in Pennsylvania, Baltimore city, and other Boyds in Maryland have not been successful. The Maryland Historical Society's accession #48732 given by Mrs. Margaret Bridges Blakeslee in 1941 includes the "Boyd-McKay Family Bible" and two versions of a typed and unsigned article on "The Boyds of Frederick." One version states "Andrew Boyd, the first member of the family to settle in Frederick, was born on September 25, 1749. The date of his arrival in this country is not known." The other states "Andrew Boyd was the first member of the family to settle in Frederick, but the date of his arrival there is not known." That is the same birth date hand-written in the bible for that of Mary McKay Boyd, which would have made her thirty-four years old when she was married. The bible has no written mention of Andrew, and the birth and death dates of others appear to have been written by someone in the following generation, the last entry being 1842.
Dr. Albert Francis Blakeslee, whose wife was the donor of the above documents, stated on a paper obtained from another descendant that Andrew Boyd came from Scotland with his brother, William, who went to Kentucky. No source is given. An unsigned biography of Andrew's grandson, Dr. Charles Mifflin Boyd, 1826-1887, states that "he came from a very affluent family...."What we do know is that in 1779, Andrew Boyd bought Lot 91 (East Church to East Second St. beside Middle (Maxwell) Alley) and was listed as "weaver," married Mary MacKay in 1783, had four children baptized in the Evangelical Reformed Church, and had two living children and four slaves listed in the 1790 census. The two children were Mary Ann, born 1787, and David, born 1790. He was listed as "merchant" in the will of his father-in-law, William MacKay, in 1797, and he died in 1807/8. William was an immigrant from Sutherland, Scotland, and his wife's father, James Pearre, had come from Aberdeenshire. MacKay and Pearre were termed "tailor," and Andrew was a "weaver," yet all three had the means to buy property in Maryland.
His (Andrew’s) son, David, was deeded the house on Lot 91 on East Church St. (later 101 East Church St.) and had fourteen children. One of which, Andrew, had eight children. David advertised his weaving and blue dying business on Church and Second Street between 1811 and 1815, and in later years the family had a store beside the City Market on Market Street. Family members bought and sold property in both the town and county.
Although Andrew's children were baptized in the Reformed church, David and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Meissell (Meixell/Measell), joined the Methodist church about 1807, and David "became one of the principal pillars in the church," according to the "Sketches of the early History of the Methodist Church of Frederick." Upon David's death in 1862, the official body of the Methodist church wrote lengthy laudatory resolutions on "Brother Boyd," and the writer of the "Sketches," who had known David since 1820, added another paragraph to state that "Bro. Boyd was one of the principal men who saved our church in Frederick from a similar fate" to those others in a "radical controversy when many of the most prominent appointments ...were torn to pieces and became mere wrecks from which they have not recovered fully to the present day."
In the 1770s there was also in Frederick an Archibald Boyd from England and Abraham Boyd of the John Boyd family from Southern Maryland. Both of these are well documented, and there is no obvious connection to Andrew. Andrew's wife, Mary MacKay, had a Scottish father and mother. We are now assuming that the statement of Dr. Blakeslee is correct, and that our Andrew was actually a Scottish immigrant.
This passage was a spectacular find, and I must add that Carroll H. Hendrickson is buried in his family’s plot in Mount Olivet's Area AA/Lot 130. Now that we have painfully established immigrant Andrew Boyd, wife Mary (McKay) and mentioned the two children of that union who grew into adulthood (David and Mary Ann (Boyd) Hunt), it’s time to delve a bit deeper into David Boyd and his family.
It was David, whose picturesque obelisk put me on this quest to Scotland, back to America, and finally here in Frederick. His name was familiar as I recall working with his bio and gravesite a decade ago with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. At that time, the cemetery published a book entitled: Frederick’s Other City War of 1812 Veterans and engaged in a project in which we placed special markers on the graves of 108 such soldiers here in Mount Olivet. Private David Boyd served under Capt. Henry Steiner of the Frederick Town Regiment, Maryland Militia, from April 28th to June 29th, 1813, and again from August 25th to September 27th, 1814.
We’ve already established that David Boyd was born August 20th, 1790 to Andrew and Mary (McCay or McKay) Boyd in Frederick City. He grew up along today’s Maxwell Alley that stretches between East Church and East Second streets. His father had bought the lot on the east side of the alley in 1779, but sold the north end (Second Street) in 2 parcels in 1802 and 1807. In 1814, David’s mother sold him the south half of the property fronting on Church Street. Nearly two decades later, David sold this property in 1833, eventually making it possible for the Tyson House to be built utilizing an Italianate design in the year 1854. Many also know this also as the Musser House, located at 101-103 East Church.
In 1833 David Boyd moved up the alley, buying lot 102 located on the east side of Maxwell between Second and Third streets. He would live in a house on this lot fronting on Second Street. That same year, David also bought property on the east side of Market Street, then described as a three-story brick house and lot.
David Boyd married Mary Meixell on May 30th. He spent his working career as a merchant and farmer here in Frederick. He seems to have taught a few of his sons the family business and subsequently partially retired to take up the life of gentleman farmer as can be seen in the 1850 and 1860 census records.
David and Mary had 14 children, six of whom are buried in Area E (most in the family plot of lots 5-8). These include Andrew (July 22nd, 1815-May 12th, 1877), Mary Ann (Boyd) Jones (June 22nd, 1819-April 28th, 1897), John Jacob Boyd (July 1, 1820-June 16th, 1876), Job Hunt Boyd (June 23, 1824-January 1, 1842), Hamilton Boyd (July 11th, 1833-May 2nd, 1863), and Caroline Virginia (Boyd) Medders (January 27th, 1835-April 26th, 1904).
Three children died young and were likely buried in the German Reformed Graveyard (Memorial Park) and not recovered to be buried here in Mount Olivet like son Job Hunt Boyd who died at age 17. Job was moved here upon his father purchasing the family plot (Area E/Lot 5-8) in Mount Olivet’s opening year of 1854.
David Boyd died December 24th, 1862 at his residence on Second Street at the age of 72. He was laid to rest next to Job. Another son, Hamilton, would soon follow just five months later as a casualty of the American Civil War. Hamilton Boyd’s gravestone states that he served with the 1st MD Inf., Co. D., C.S.A. Our cemetery record database claims he served with Co. C, 43rd Virginia Cavalry under John Mosby. The Soldier History states "H.P. Boyd" enlisted as a private and served in Co. C, Va. Mosby's Part. Cavalry." The Detailed Soldier Record back this claim by saying that "H.P. Boyd" enlisted as a private and served in Co. C, of Mosby's Ref't. Va. Cavalry. (NOTE: Another soldier history states "H.P. Boyd" enlisted as a private and served in Co H, 146th Va. Militia Inf. Are these two different soldiers?) Hamilton Boyd is reported to have died on May 2nd, 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. His family, however, had the means to bring his body home for proper burial.
Another son of David Boyd, named David as well, also served with the Confederacy, supposedly under Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Jackson was fatally wounded during the Battle of Chancellorsville, but David lived a full life (1838-1909) after the war. He is buried in Baltimore’s Greenmount Cemetery without a stone.
As they say that this was a war of "brother vs. brother," depicted locally in the story of the Baer family as we featured in a former "Story in Stone" last year. The Baers are buried across the drive and at the south end of the Potts lot, only 20 yards away from the Boyd plot in Mount Olivet. They also relate to the Tyson House on East Church Street as a descendant (Jacob Baer Tyson) would be an owner of the property that once belonged to the Boyd family. Anyway, another son of David and Mary’s was Dr. Charles Mifflin Boyd (1826-1887) who served for the Union Army as a surgeon. After the war, he re-located to Renick, Randolph County, Missouri where he eventually died after being hit by a train. He would be buried in a small, remote family burying ground called the Boyd-Venable Cemetery. It's in a dilapidated condition from what I found on Find-a-Grave.com, but I was delighted to see that Charles' gravestone states that he was from Frederick County, Maryland.
Two of David Boyd, Sr.'s children would be buried in Virginia: Frances Elizabeth (Boyd) Ball (1817-1904) in Portsmouth; and Asbury McKendree Boyd (1831-1908) in Foster, Mathews County, Virginia.
It is unknown where Wilson Rowen Boyd (1828-1896) is buried. In 1859, he was boarding at Frederick’s Central Hotel and working as a tailor. He married Lizzie H. Roche, who predeceased him and is buried in Howard County’s Grace Cemetery. Perhaps he is here, or was buried in either Easton (MD) or in Baltimore where he lived out his life. While looking into him, I stumbled upon a fascinating article in the Baltimore Sun which points to wealthy ancestors in Scotland on his grandmother McKay's side of the family.
David's wife, Mary, died in 1871. She was buried next to her husband. Two more immediate family members need to be covered, both sons who were primarily responsible for handling their parents' estate and holdings interests. These were John Jacob Boyd and Andrew Boyd.
A Baltimore Boyd
John Jacob Boyd (July 1st, 1820-June 16th, 1876) is not within the Boyd family plot here in Mount Olivet, but is within a stone's throw to the southeast of it. This monument is the grandest Boyd "stone" of all, and the location is solely due to a marital relationship relating to two leading citizens of Frederick’s past who shared the same first name as him—John Sifford and John Loats.
John Sifford (1798-1878) was a prominent farmer and broker who was one of Frederick's wealthiest individuals throughout his lifetime. Mr. Boyd (wisely) married Mr. Sifford's daughter, Frances Adelaide Sifford, on March 9th, 1847. The name Loats is appropriately applied to a city park located just down the hill and to the east of our cemetery property. It was once owned by John Loats (1814-1879), John Jacob Boyd's brother-in-law who had married John Sifford’s daughter Caroline. Mr. Loats was a businessman who would serve as one-time president of the Frederick and Pennsylvania Line Railroad and gave us the Loats Female Orphan Asylum which was located in today’s home of Heritage Frederick (formerly known as the Historical Society of Frederick County).
John Jacob Boyd was a former city councilman and worked in a mercantile business here in Frederick that his brother Andrew had taken over from their father. This was located on the southeast corner of North Market Street and Market Space according to the Williams’ Frederick Directory of 1859-60. By this time, John Jacob and family had ventured to Baltimore seven years earlier in 1853 where he would be in charge of his own dry goods operation.
My research assistant Marilyn Veek shared with me some research I asked her to conduct in respect to John Jacob's land purchasing in Frederick during his time here. She found that John J. Boyd bought what is now 201-203 East Second Street in 1849, and sold it in 1859 after moving to Baltimore. Since this is the first property he bought in Frederick, and the last he sold, it seems likely that this is where he lived (note that tax records indicate that the current houses there were built about 1880). John J. also owned, for shorter periods, a lot on the north side of East Patrick (in the vicinity of 41-49 East Patrick) and a lot on the south side of East Church Street along the west side of Chapel Alley. Lastly, he also bought a 121-acre property (possibly along New Design Road) from Sifford & Lorentz in 1852 and sold it to Sifford & Loats in 1857--skillfully keeping it all in the family.
I'm always interested to see where those buried in our cemetery once lived, especially when it involves locations outside of Frederick. John Jacob Boyd and family lived in the western part of center-city Baltimore (denoted below with red arrow). They lived at 5 North Carey Street which is about a three block walk northwest of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum.
John Jacob Boyd brought his own sons into the family business naturally, and also ventured into the grain trade business after the Civil War.
He died in early summer of 1876, but was buried here in Frederick under one of the finest monuments in our cemetery, complete with curbing and numerous ornamental birdbaths. This gravesite located in Area E's Lot 68 & 69. truly quenched my appetite for a "monumental" monument sought from the outset.
Well, it seems as if we’ve come full circle, at least in name. Holding his immigrant grandfather’s name, Andrew Boyd (son of David) was born on July 22nd, 1815, less than a year after his father’s service at the Battle of Baltimore—the event that helped make our Francis Scott Key a household name.
Andrew made a great mark on Frederick through his commercial endeavors and civic involvement. He learned the family business from his father and married Caroline Elizabeth Mantz on September 1st, 1842. Andrew Boyd inherited the North Market Street property from his father and was in partnership with brother John Jacob before his move to Baltimore.
The census of 1850 shows a fairly, large household, not unlike what he had grown up in. The location would also serve as the site of his dry goods business. Interestingly he was to men and boy's clothing, what the Hendrickson's would be for clothing for the fairer sex decades later.
In the early 1850s, Andrew either volunteered, or was chosen, to represent the interest of Frederick’s Methodist Church (of which he was a member) in a new venture to form a non-denominational burying ground for Frederick. Many of the downtown church graveyards, like that of the Methodist congregation once located east of Middle (now Maxwell) Alley between Third and Fourth streets, were either filled to capacity or hindered additional growth to church structures. The thought was to construct a cemetery that was outside of the town center, and follow the direction of many cities over the previous two decades in forming “garden cemeteries.” Andrew Boyd was one of 16 incorporators of the Mount Olivet Cemetery on October 4th, 1852.
Four years later, in 1856, Andrew would be among the original incorporators of the Franklin Savings Bank of Frederick. The entity would rent a room from Andrew Boyd at his location on North Market next to the City Market House. Boyd continued building his own business clientele up through the next decade which would be filled with plenty of trouble on the local, state and national level. Meanwhile, he and Caroline would raise eight of their eleven children into adulthood.
Mr. Boyd would play an interesting role during the American Civil War. This came with Jubal Early’s Confederate invasion of town in July of 1864. After Gen. Early levied his legendary ransom of $200,000, the Franklin Savings Bank would be apportioned to raise $31,000 by the City Fathers to save the town from apparent destruction by the Rebel hosts. Mr. Boyd was there to assist. Williams’ History of Frederick County (1910) recounts the tale:
“Later in the month, there was apprehension of another Confederate raid on Frederick. Andrew was authorized to take the coin bonds and valuable papers of the Franklin Bank to Philadelphia “as the safest place for these things to be deposited.” He left Frederick on the morning of the 27th and his report made a few days later shows that he deposited them in the Bank of North America in Philadelphia. In the following month, August, some of these bonds and coin was sold in Philadelphia, the gold bringing $2.54 and the silver $2.37 per dollar. The balance of the bonds and papers were brought back to Frederick on April 14th, 1865, the principal item among which was $37,000 U.S. gold bearing bonds.”
On the Titus Atlas map of 1873, Andrew’s name appears to be the owner of additional property on North Market Street between 8th and 9th streets. In 1874, he was appointed President of the Franklin Savings Bank of Frederick and served in this capacity for three years.
The savvy businessman also sold life insurance, and centered much of his energies into this profession late in life.
Andrew Boyd had served on Mount Olivet Cemetery’s Board of Directors for 25 years when the corporation held its annual elections on May 7th, 1877. Mr. Boyd was re-elected that day to serve another term, however, he would die just five days later on May 12th, 1877 at the age of 61. An emergency meeting was called and Mr. Boyd’s vacancy would be filled by his own first cousin, Ashbury H. Hunt. Andrew Boyd would be buried in the family plot in Area E within the cemetery he helped create 25 years earlier.
Caroline sold the Boyd’s longtime home on North Market Street to Adrian McCardell in 1877. Today, the former Andrew Boyd business store location is numbered 116-129 North Market Street. The large building is owned and operated by Frederick County Government (immediately south of Brewers Alley Restaurant) and provides office space to county employees. Franklin Savings Bank eventually became the Mutual Insurance Company in a building that still stands. The southern portion of the Boyd property was sold to Franklin Savings Bank by Mrs. Boyd as well. The present facade was constructed in 1909 (now 112-114 N Market St.). Caroline Boyd died in 1899, and is buried here with 9 of her children surrounding her.
One last note while we are on the Boyd family. There is a place named Boyds located just across the Frederick County border in neighboring Montgomery County. This community was named for Colonel James Alexander Boyd (1823–1896), a Scottish immigrant who was a construction engineer for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Boyd built a temporary village to house construction workers as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad built the Metropolitan Branch line after the American Civil War. The railroad line began service in 1873. After the railroad station opened, a mill, stores, and other businesses were established in the area.
As for our bookend "Andrew Boyds" for this story, mot to mention David and John Jacob, and all the others, I’d be very interested to see portraits or photos to check or verify whether any or all of these individuals of Scottish origin were actually fair-complected and/or blonde like their early ancestor from way, way back in the 13th century.
Merry Christmas! That’s right, I said it…Merry Christmas! Can’t you just feel the spirit of the season?
Maybe you’re just distracted by doing so thanks to rising temperatures, and prices for just about everything? Yes, baseball, outdoor concerts and the beach don’t help with the yuletide vibe, but I’m telling you, it’s time to do a mid-year accounting of who’s been naughty or nice. And it’s never too late, or early, to wish Jesus a happy birthday if you are of the Christian faith tradition.
Many have likely heard the phrase “Christmas in July” and thought it was simply a commercial marketing ploy. Or maybe it signifies creative fundraising efforts by non-profit/charity groups at an alternative time of year from traditional giving. I’m happy to report that there are places in our world actually celebrating “Christmas in July” for all the right reasons.
In the Southern Hemisphere, seasons are in reverse to ours in the Northern Hemisphere, with summer falling in December, January, and February, and winter falling in June, July, and August. There are some countries that have championed “Christmas in July” by undertaking mid-winter Christmas events in order to have Christmastime with a winter feel in common with the northern hemisphere. Some of the longtime participants include Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, and New Zealand. These countries still celebrate Christmas on December 25th, like us, but none can expect a traditional “White Christmas” on that day.
It was happenstance that I was led to this interesting fact, and the blame solely falls on the Ruprecht family located in Mount Olivet’s Area H/Lot 423 and 425. Recently, I saw this row of stones—among some of the most plain and average looking specimens that we have here. With our second annual Mount Olivet Monument Hall of Fame enshrinement coming up in early September, I will gladly offer a “spoiler report” that none of the gravestones here come even close to consideration.
If you read our “Hall of Fame” Story in Stone article last summer, or saw our Hall of Fame Gallery on this website, you learned that our nominating criteria has nothing to do with the achievements garnered, or life led (or experienced) by our decedents. This is solely an honor based on art, architecture, creativity and design executed on a piece of stone destined to be used as a grave memorial.
Since their gravestones are somewhat forgettable, I felt it my duty to write an article here so readers could find the Ruprechts worth remembering—the same philosophy to be used when considering all 40,000+ individuals buried here in our cemetery and others, everywhere else.
So, what’s up with this distinctly German name? And you may also be wondering how the heck am I going to weave Christmas into this story? Well, I will tell you that our featured family does hail from Deutschland, and they have a name that forever links them to Christmas as celebrated in their native home country.
Knecht Ruprecht, which translates as Farmhand Rupert or Servant Rupert, is a companion of Saint Nicholas as described in the folklore of Germany. He first appears in written sources in the 17th century, as a figure in a Nuremberg Christmas procession.
Tradition holds that St. Nicholas appears in homes on St. Nicholas day (December 6), and is a man with a long beard, wearing fur or covered in pea-straw. Knecht Ruprecht sometimes carries a long staff and a bag of ashes. He also wears little bells on his clothes and in some descriptions rides on a white horse. Other times he is accompanied by fairies or men with blackened faces and dressed as old women.
According to tradition, Knecht Ruprecht asks children whether they can pray. If they can, they receive apples, nuts, and gingerbread. If they cannot, he beats the children with his bag of ashes. In other (presumably more modern) versions of the story, Knecht Ruprecht gives naughty children useless, ugly gifts such as lumps of coal, sticks, and stones, while well-behaving children receive sweets from Saint Nicholas. He also can be known to give naughty children a switch (stick) in their shoes for their parents to beat them with, instead of candy, fruit and nuts, in the German tradition.
The companions of Saint Nicholas are a group of closely related figures who accompany St. Nicholas in German-speaking Europe and more widely throughout the territories formerly in the Holy Roman Empire. These characters act as a foil to the benevolent Christmas gift-bringer, threatening to thrash or abduct disobedient children. Jacob Grimm (of the famed Grimm Brothers) associated this character with a pre-Christian house spirit or elf which could be benevolent or malicious, but whose mischievous side was emphasized after Christianization. The most famous (and violent) of these was Krampus, who was depicted on many holiday post cards as a devil-like creature with a long tongue.
So, to review, kids of today just have to contend with a creepy elf on a shelf doll watching their every move come Christmas season. Back in the day, ornery kids were given coal and smackdowns with either a stick or bag of ashes. Who would’ve guessed that Christmas could be so painful?
The Ruprecht Family
This family came to Frederick around the year 1842 from Hanover, Germany. As I’ve already put emphasis on the Ruprecht name, I assume the Ruprecht’s had a comfort level with the name of their new home, Frederick, as both city and county were named in honor of Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-1751) who was also born in Hanover. Frederick, son of King George I and father of King George II, never got his chance to be king as a member of the “House of Hanover,” better known as the Electorate of Hanover of the Holy Roman Empire. This electorate was located in northwestern Germany and took its name from the capital city of Hanover.
For most of its existence, the electorate was ruled in personal union with Great Britain and Ireland following the Hanoverian Succession dating back to 1714 when the Prince-Elector of Hanover became King of Great Britain. As a consequence, a reluctant Britain was forced time and again to defend the King's German possessions. Hanover, itself, remained a separately ruled territory with its own governmental bodies, and the country had to sign a treaty with Great Britain whenever Hanoverian troops fought on the British side of a war. Merged into the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia in 1807, it was re-established as the Kingdom of Hanover in 1814, and the personal union with the British crown lasted until 1837.
Henry William Ruprecht, Sr. was born in Hanover, Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) Germany on August 11th, 1804. According to info found in a family tree on Ancestry.com, he married Hannah Julian Dorothea (1792-1865) sometime before 1828, at which time the couple were blessed with a boy who would take his father’s name. Another son would be born to the couple in 1833, and was given a very fitting name based on the information I just told you. This was Henry Frederick Ruprecht.
An obituary article at the time of Henry Frederick Ruprecht’s death offers a little insight on the family’s immigration to the New World around 1837, and eventually taking up residence in Frederick five years later:
"HENRY FREDERICK RUPRECHT, one of the best-known citizens of Frederick and a retired decorator and carpetman, died at his home at No. 29 East Third street at about 8.30 o'clock this morning. Mr. Ruprecht was a native of Germany, and came to America with his parents when only three years old. His parents located in Frederick in 1842 and here Mr. Ruprecht was reared and spent his life.
He learned the trade of his father, that of an upholsterer and another brother, learned paper hanging and the brothers for years did a large business in Frederick, and there are few houses, where one or the other of the brothers did not do work during their long term in business."
Henry Frederick Ruprecht was the last surviving member of his immediate family. His occupations were certainly influenced by his father and brother as the article reads. An article appeared in the local newspaper in 1908 on the occasion of his 75th birthday. It was hard to read, but it said that he upholstered many pews for local churches (including Middletown's Lutheran church) and repaired 136 beds of the old Jesuit Novitiate on East Second Street before having them shipped to Poughkeepsie, New York ( the Catholic religious order removed there in 1903).
Thanks to fellow resident, Jacob Engelbrecht, also of German stock, we have a few points of information that could not be found on Ancestry.com, but were recorded for posterity in Mr. Engelbrecht’s famed diary. One such entry dated September 23rd, 1858 reads:
Henry William Ruprecht was born in Carlshafen, Curhassen Germany on August 11, 1804 and married in Hanover Germany June 10, 1827 to Miss Hannah Dorathea Julianna Roselich, born Dravisfeld, Hannover. Came to America and arrived in Baltimore in the ship Gustav Captain Spilcher April 30, 1838 came to reside in Frederick, Maryland November 8, 1843. Has two sons the eldest Henry William Ruprecht Junior born April 29, 1828 and Henry Frederick Ruprecht born November 8, 1833.
Where Jacob shorted us on proper punctuation in his original writing (within the diary), he gave us so very much in the form of facts that have been lost to time elsewhere. The Ruprecht family appears first in Frederick in the 1850 US census. Mr. Ruprecht’s occupation is written as “mattressmaker.”
The Williams’ Frederick Directory City Guide and Business Mirror of 1859-60 lists the Ruprecht family home on the north side of East Third Street, in between Market Street and Middle Alley. Research showed that the family lived on the west side of the alley in the home that carries the address today of 33 East Third Street.
The same directory gives an address for Mr. Ruprecht’s business as located on the east side of Market Street and East Second Street. the warehouse type structure was south of the original F & M Bank location (on the southeast corner) and the Juniors Fire Hall but north of the Old Market House (Frederick’s former town hall and today’s location of Brewer’s Alley Restaurant). I think I know the exact location as Jacob Engelbrecht also had his tailoring business in this same location before moving it to West Patrick Street and Carroll Creek. Unfortunately, it is not pictured but would be at the D.B. Hunt building or in between the images below found on the Sachse lithograph of Frederick from 1854.
The coolest find in my research here came in this city directory publication that listed Henry W. Ruprecht’s occupation as “Paper Hanger, Upholsterer and Curled Hair Manufacturer.” The latter certainly caught my imagination. I would soon learn that a “Curled Hair” merchant was a dealer in horse-hair stuffing, commonly used in upholstery. Individuals, be they manufacturers or customers, referred to this luxurious product as “hair seating.”
Engelbrecht makes other mention of the Ruprecht’s business endeavors in his diary, and also lists Henry William Sr. and both sons as members of the Brengle Home Guards during the American Civil War. The diarist also recounts an event from October 28th, 1862 in which the family’s barn “was set on fire and entirely consumed together with a large quantity of husks (for mattresses).” I’m guessing corn husks mattresses were the cheaper model (than horse hair). Regardless, Engelbrecht quoted the loss at about $300, but made sure to report that Mr. R. was duly insured by the Mutual Insurance Company of Frederick County for $50 (incendiary). I wonder if it was the work of a rival, or more so, a southern sympathizer?
The family carried on business activities throughout the war, but Henry William, Sr. stepped down to allow his oldest son to take the "reins" so to speak.
This same gentleman, Henry William, Jr. was also raising his own family, having married Eva Catherine Duft in 1859. The couple would have two children: Lewis Frederick Ruprecht (1859-1940) and Anna M. Ruprecht (1861-1949.) Both children are buried in the family plot in Area H as well, Miss Ruprecht having married a gentleman named Columbus C. Cover.
The grave plot had been purchased in June of 1860 and Mrs. Hannah J. D. Ruprecht would be the first family member buried here. She died in the waning months of the Civil War, on January 28th, 1865.
The 1870 US Census lists Henry W. Sr’s profession as a “Curled Hair Maker” and both of his sons, daughter-in-law “Kate” and grandchildren are living in the same household. Sadly, Henry William Ruprecht, Jr. would join his mother in Mount Olivet a decade after her death. He passed on June 21st, 1875. His wife would die less than two years later in early February, 1877. Henry’s father and brother were left to guide and care for his two, teenage children.
The group can be found together in the 1880 Census still living on East Third Street, but Mr. Ruprecht would soon join his wife and son, dying on December 12th, 1881.
Uncle Fred served as sole parent to his nephew and niece up through his death. In 1900, Anna is living with him, as well as a servant named Daisy Stouffer. Lewis can be seen living next door (33 East Third Street) with his wife Mary and son, Guy. Both uncle and nephew worked together as “paper hangers.” The same would hold true a decade later as well.
I saw somewhere that the Ruprechts would re-locate their showroom to Patrick Street, but I'm not positive exactly where. Henry Frederick Ruprecht died on April 14th, 1913 at his home at 29 East Third Street. His death was colorfully described in detail in the Frederick News:
"Mrs. Ruprecht retired from the business about four years ago and was succeeded by his nephew, Lewis F. Ruprecht. Mrs. Ruprecht then moved to the house in which he died, his niece, Miss Anna Ruprecht keeping house for him.
Ever since his retirement Mr. Ruprecht has been in poor health, but managed to get about very well. Yesterday one week ago he attended the Methodist church, of which he was a member, but was seized with a dizzy spell and was compelled to leave. This morning he came downstairs, complaining of a severe headache, but went to the table and began eating breakfast. Suddenly he threw his head back and fell lifeless. A physician pronounced death due apoplexy.
Mr. Ruprecht was born in Hanover, Land Minden, Germany on November 8, 1833, and was in his 80th year. He had never married, but upon his brother's death reared his nephew and niece. He was regarded as one of the substantial citizens of the community, and was held in high esteem by all who knew him."
Well, that’s it for this one. Not much more to say other than “Happy Holidays” to you and yours, and be extra good, because life’s much too short to be getting the smackdown from Knecht Ruprecht. At least in Frederick, Maryland, kids receiving a spanking from Ruprecht or a parent for misbehaving at least had a soft place to sit if the Ruprecht family had upholstered their seats.
The 159th anniversary of arguably the most famous conflict of the American Civil War is occurring as this story is published in early July, 2022. Of course, I am referring to a place just up the road from Frederick and across the Mason-Dixon Line, —Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town, by Union and Confederate forces under Major General George Meade's Army of the Potomac and General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. A Union victory resulted in halting Lee's invasion of the North, but also involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war. It is often described as the war's turning point due to the Union's decisive victory and concurrence with the Siege of Vicksburg.
I hadn’t made a trek to Gettysburg in quite some time, but that soon changed as I have made two trips there in recent weeks. One outing was for history, and the second for pleasure, as I saw Canadian music legend Gordon Lightfoot perform at the Majestic Theater on June 23rd. Now mind you, history reared its head at the concert as well, but it had nothing to do with the “high-water mark” of the American Civil War, and everything to do with dangerous waters of a non-proverbial kind involving “a legend that lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they called Gitche Gumee.”
Two and a half weeks earlier, back on June 4th, I had the opportunity to chaperone my 15-year-old-son and his girlfriend on a private field trip for three. It was a beautiful day, and we could have done anything, anywhere in the tri-state area. I randomly suggested a trip to Gettysburg National Battlefield. They consented, and soon they were in for a special treat—that of listening to me ramble on as their personal battlefield guide.
It was a day which brought back great memories for me of past visits. I shared with Eddie, and girlfriend Devyn, that our ancestor, John Greenwood, (my GGG Grandfather) had participated in this legendary fight as a private in the 96th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment’s Company D. I pointed out his name on the Pennsylvania State Memorial, and also showed them the iconic monument to the 96th located in the valley below Little Round Top. This unit participated in the bloodbath sector of the battle called the Wheatfield.
This particular trip was made much more special to me as I was able to make connections (from the battle) back to Frederick. One such example resides in the fact that the Union commander, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade was given command of the Army of the Potomac just days before the battle at Prospect Hall. A monument, crafted from a piece of brown sandstone from Devil's Den (Gettysburg Battlefield), commemorates this fact along Himes Avenue, just down the hill from the mansion house used most recently as the location of St. Johns Catholic High School. This was placed here in 1930 by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission.
Speaking of Union officers, I shared with my young tourists the stories of Brig. Gen. John Buford and his cavalry division at Seminary Ridge, and Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine’s gallant hold of the Union Army’s extreme left flank at Little Round Top. Both men were immortalized by actors Sam Elliot and Jeff Daniels in Ron Maxwell’s 1993 movie Gettysburg.
This motion picture debuted on Ted Turner’s TBS Network and was based on Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Killer Angels. I always make the suggestion to friends planning to make a visit to Gettysburg to watch this movie first. It will certainly make the battlefield touring experience more enlightening because you can view the current landscape while imagining the scenes as depicted in the movie version.
Two other commanders with ties to Frederick that fought at Gettysburg include Gen. Jubal Early of Virginia and Brig. Gen. Daniel Sickles of New York. Early’s name should jump off the tongue as he was the commander who threatened Frederick’s well-being a year later (July, 1864) by demanding a ransom of $200,000 to be paid. Early and many of his soldiers likely passed by Mount Olivet’s front gates by way of Market Street and the Old Georgetown Pike to engage Union forces under Gen. Lew Wallace at the Battle of Monocacy. As cantankerous a guy Early has been said to have been, his match was certainly Dan Sickles.
Daniel Edgar Sickles (1819–1914) was an American politician, soldier, and diplomat, born to a wealthy family in New York City. Upon the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Sickles became one of the war's most prominent political generals, recruiting the New York regiments that became known as the Excelsior Brigade in the Army of the Potomac. Despite his lack of military experience, Sickles served as a brigade, division, and corps commander in some of the early Eastern campaigns. His military career ended at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, after he moved his III Corps without orders to an untenable position, where they suffered 40% casualties but slowed Confederate Gen. James Longstreet's flanking maneuver. Sickles himself was wounded by cannon fire at Gettysburg and had to have his leg amputated. He was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
We have a direct connection to Gen. Sickles here at Mount Olivet, and I would soon learn that many ghost tours in Gettysburg include a story that illustrates this point, yet not directly mentioning our humble burying ground by name. Dan Sickles was involved in a number of scandals throughout his time as a politician, most notably the 1859 homicide of his wife's lover, U.S. District Attorney (of Washington D.C.) Philip Barton Key II. Yes, the name should ring a bell, or evoke the vision of an American flag, because Philip was the son of our very own Francis Scott Key.
Once a confidante and close friend of the patriot songwriter’s offspring, Sickles gunned down Philip in broad daylight in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House. In what was hailed as the trial of the century, Sickles was acquitted after using temporary insanity as a legal defense for the first time in United States history.
After the war, Sickles devoted considerable effort in trying to gain credit for helping achieve the Union victory at Gettysburg, writing articles and testifying before Congress in a manner that denigrated the intentions and actions of his superior officer, Maj. Gen. George Meade. Sickles was appointed as a commander for military districts in the South during Reconstruction. He also served as U.S. Minister to Spain under President Ulysses S. Grant. Later he was re-elected to Congress, where he helped pass legislation to preserve the Gettysburg Battlefield.
On a ghost tour the night of our visit, the kids and I learned that Sickles helped procure a much-needed fence around the perimeter of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Apparently, Congress was against an appropriation, so Sickles urged the need for a new fence around Lafayette Square, the old “scene of the crime” between Sickles and Mr. Key years before. This was granted, and Sickles made sure the old fence would go to Gettysburg and the cemetery. Ghost tour guides tell this story, with the creepy takeaway being that one of these sections of fence, could possibly be the exact one that Philip Barton Key died against as he breathed his last breath. Supposedly his jacket became impaled by the fence.
In case you are curious, Philip Barton Key II was buried with his wife Ellen Swan Key in Westminster Burial Ground in downtown Baltimore. This is the same historic cemetery where Edgar Allan Poe's mortal remains reside.
While Sickles was not very hospitable to the Key family, he was a friend to the tourism industry because of all he did in bringing about this battlefield park, the most famous in the country. Like cemeteries, battlegrounds can find themselves full of mortal remains during the conflict. After proper burial, those who died within these hallowed grounds are forever memorialized by monuments depicting their brave deeds in life. Once again, I was able to use some of these monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield to make a few unique connections to others found in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
I took the kids to my second favorite monument on the battlefield beside the fore-mentioned one of my GGG grandfather’s 96th regiment. This would be the 1st Maryland Monument at Culp’s Hill. The granite monument on the northeast quadrant of the battlefield stands 12 feet tall. It is capped with the star symbol of the Twelfth Army Corps and has a relief feature of a bayonet and cartridge box on its face, supported by rolled bedrolls. A round bronze Seal of the State of Maryland is inset in the center of the front. Just above the base (on the front) is a relief of a forage cap on top of laurel branches. The monument was dedicated on October 25th,1888 by the State of Maryland.
This monument includes the name of Col. William Pinkney Maulsby, a lawyer from Frederick, who commanded the 1st Maryland Regiment, Potomac Home Brigade. Maulsby was the owner of Prospect Hall during the war. He is buried in a family plot located in Mount Olivet’s Area G and is worthy of a full “Story in Stone.”
The unique aspect of fighting at Culp’s Hill this pivotal spot of the Union Army’s right flank is the fact that Union Marylanders squared off against Confederate Marylanders here. A past subject of my blog participated at the fighting at Culp’s Hill under Col. Maulsby on July 2nd and 3rd. This was Captain Joseph Groff of the Potomac Home Brigade who was accompanied by his son David. Both men survived the battle and war. Capt. Groff was a local business and civic leader in Frederick who operated a few different hotels once located on N. Market Street. Along with other members of the Potomac Home Brigade, Groff is buried in Mount Olivet.
To the northwest of the battlefield, the visitor will find the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. This was dedicated on July 3rd, 1938. It commemorates the 1913 Gettysburg reunion that marked the 50th anniversary of the battle in which surviving veterans came together as united Americans and not adversaries as they had done in battle. Here, a natural gas flame burns within a one-ton bronze urn atop a tower located on a stone pedestrian terrace. I learned that the eternal flame was the only one in the world for its first few decades.
I learned a couple of extra sidelights on this monument. One such being that faulty Alabama limestone had been used for the base platform. With heavy pedestrian traffic, this began failing miserably within a decade of the monument's erection. This would require a major renovation. This monument was visited by President Jimmy Carter during the 1978 Camp David Accords between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. A decade later, the Gettysburg Peace Celebration committee had been formed for the upcoming 50th anniversary rededication of the memorial planned for July 3rd, 1988.
Renovation projects are always going on, as I have a much deeper appreciation of what grave monuments experience due to age, weather and erosion. It is quite amazing to see the shape the battlefield is in considering the years and visitation that these sentinels have experienced.
A renovation project was being done at the Eternal Peace Monument in 1985 that would have a direct impact on our cemetery. Eleftherios Karkadoulias, a noted expert in both granite and bronze restoration and based in Cincinnati, was making repairs. This same gentleman was visited at this time by our cemetery superintendent, Ron Pearcey, who inquired Mr. Karkadoulias’ of his experience and talents. Ron's goal in doing this teamed from the need to properly restore our Francis Scott Key monument. Mr. Karkadoulias would perform this task for us in 1987. The bronze figures of Key, Columbia and two young boys were dismantled and delivered to Mr. Karkadoulias' studio in Cincinnati to undergo major restoration.
Now, let's return back to Gettysburg, PA, shall we? Speaking of Alabama a few minutes ago in respect to faulty limestone at the eternal Peace Monument, a much better, and durable, selection of rock was used for the monument depicting the soldiers from this state. This is a few miles away from the Eternal Peace Light Memorial on the far southeast part of the battlefield below Big Round Top. Of particular interest here is the fact that this monument is primarily credited to an individual resting in peace here at Mount Olivet. His name was Joseph Walker Urner, and if you’ve been to Mount Olivet, you’ve most likely seen some of his other work. It’s literally and figuratively “head and shoulders” above the rest when it comes to examples of sculpture work in town.
The State of Alabama monument is located south of Gettysburg on South Confederate Avenue. The Alabama Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated the monument in 1933.The monument stands where General Evander Law’s Alabama Brigade began their assault toward Little Round Top on July 2nd after a grueling 18-mile approach march. These were among the Rebels who were repulsed by Joshua Chamberlin and his 20th Maine as they held the Union left flank “at all costs.” Alabama sent almost 6,000 men to Gettysburg with the Army of Northern Virginia. Most of them were in Law’s Brigade in the First Corps, O’Neal’s Brigade in the Second Corps, and Wilcox’s Brigade in the Third Corps. Alabama lost 2,249 casualties at Gettysburg.
The Alabama monument features a large granite base, topped by a granite monolith, and fronted by a bronze figure group (fabricated by the Roman Bronze Company in New York City). The granite is from Gettysburg and Barre, Vermont, and was fashioned for this project at Hammaker Brothers, Inc., a monument and gravestone firm founded in 1874 and based in Thurmont.
The monument was designed and sculpted by Joseph W. Urner of Frederick in conjunction with Ernest P. Hammaker, President of Hammaker Brothers, Inc. Of special interest here is the fact that Ernest’ uncle, Peter N. Hammaker (1856-1925), ran this same company from 1884 until his death, and is buried in Mount Olivet’s Area S/Lot 136.
Mr. Urner’s bronze group composition features a female figure representing the Spirit of the Confederacy, flanked by a wounded soldier on her right and an armed soldier on her left. Her left arm gestures the armed soldier to continue fighting and her right lightly restrains the wounded figure from further combat. The top of the granite monolith is inscribed with the word "Alabamians!" and the base with "Your Names Are Inscribed On Fames Immortal Scroll."
Joseph Walker Urner
In his 1956 work, The Old Line State A History of Maryland, author Morris Radoff, Archivist of the Maryland Hall of Records, states: “The reputation of Joseph Walker Urner, which is national, lies in the three related fields of sculpture, oil painting and architecture and in each he has attained an outstanding position. An unusual creative man in that he recognizes a direct responsibility to the community in which he lives, Frederick, he participates in civic programs, especially through community and fraternal organizations.”
Joseph Walker Urner was born on January 16th, 1898, the son of the Hon. Hammond G. Urner (1868–1942) and Mary Lavinia "Birdie" Floyd (1872–1956). His paternal grandfather was Milton Urner (July 29, 1839 – February 9, 1926), a U.S. Congressman from the sixth district of Maryland who served two terms from 1879 until 1883. The family lived at 215 East Second Street.
After his preliminary education in his native Frederick, Joseph spent 1918 at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. From 1919-1920, he studied at Johns Hopkins and followed this with advanced education at the Maryland Institute College of Art from 1922-1925.
Joseph married Miss Irma A Bradshaw on December 31st, 1919 and the couple would have two children—Joanna Adlington (b. Feb. 22nd, 1923) and Joseph Floyd (b. December 15th, 1929). Joanna would go on to marry Gerald H. Smith of Sao Paulo, Brazil, while son Joseph graduated from MIT with Bachelor and Master of Science degrees and stayed in Massachusetts. (Note: the Smiths would return to reside in Frederick and are buried in the Urner family lot in Mount Olivet).
The family lived at 36 East Second Street in Frederick and regularly attended All Saints Episcopal Church. Joseph came back to his hometown and in 1926 established himself as an architect in private practice. He had a work office located at 110 West Patrick Street, and would design and supervise construction of industrial, residential and public buildings. I was surprised to learn that one of his first projects was the Barbara Fritchie replica house and former museum located on Carroll Creek, and not far from his office.
Joseph Urner further used his artistic talents in painting portraits, but is best remembered for his work in the field of sculpture as has been demonstrated by the State of Alabama monument at Gettysburg Battlefield. He studied the artform under noted sculptor Ettore Cadorin (1876-1952). We have three of his works on public display here within our grounds at Mount Olivet Cemetery. These come in the form of three busts of past Fredericktonians who all made their mark on the history of our area, and in two cases, the nation.
In 1926, Urner was commissioned to design and sculpt a bust of Thomas Johnson, Jr., a member of Continental Congress, Revolutionary War officer and Maryland’s first-elected governor. This completed piece was placed upon a pedestal in front of the former Frederick County Courthouse (today’s City Hall). As many know, the Johnson bust was moved here to the cemetery in early 2018.
The call came for a like bust be created for Roger Brooke Taney, the most accomplished attorney in Frederick County’s history, who attained higher positions up to the very top of his profession. Taney served as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only was Taney the first Catholic to hold this position (at a time when there was much discrimination lobbied against members of this faith), he administered the oath of office to seven U.S. presidents.
Of course, there is the Dred Scott Case majority decision which has been grounds for “cancellation” of his career and personal achievements but that has nothing to do with the artistic ability executed by Joseph Urner in crafting this art piece that graced Frederick’s Court House Square from 1931-1918. It to was moved here to Mount Olivet and stands across from Urner’s bust of Johnson on what we call “Star-Spangled Plaza” at the front of the cemetery, about a hundred yards behind the Francis Scott Key Monument.
A third work came in the form of Amon Burgee (1865-1945), commissioned by Frederick High School’s Alumni Association to be placed over his grave here in the cemetery. This bust by Urner was unveiled in 1947 at a fine ceremony memorializing the former principal of Frederick’s Boys’ High School, the predecessor to Frederick High. Burgee served in this capacity from 1894-1916, and had Urner among his many students. The noted educator is responsible for the lasting team name of “Cadets” due to his insistence that his students take up military drilling as part of their schooling curriculum.
Speaking of cadets and military activity, Joseph Urner holds the unique distinction of serving in both World War I and World War II. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the summer of 1917. He currently holds a memorial page on our sister site entitled MountOlivetVets.com. The following information can be gleaned from this site that is being slowly built to include all of our 4,000plus veterans buried here.
Joseph Walker Urner
Electrician 2C/US Navy: HQ, 5th Naval District
Induction 7/24/1917, Apprentice Seaman,
Naval Reserve Fleet (MD Naval Militia)
10/10/1917 Harvard Radio School,
1/3/1918 Promoted to Electrician 3rd Class, Radio
1/3/1918 Promoted to Electrician 2nd Class, Radio,
5th Naval District Headquarters
1/4/1918 Naval Aviation Detail, Ft. Worth, TX
2/25/1918 Receiving Ship, Philadelphia, PA
3/12/1918 Naval Air Station, Killingholme, England
11/30/1918 Pelham Bay Park, NY
Joseph W. Urner also served in World War II as a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy Seabees. He returned home to continue his career as an architect. His vast community involvement ranged from the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, Elks Lodge, Kiwanis Club and Historical Society of Frederick. He and wife Irma also spent time in Braddock Heights where they had a retreat house on Maryland Avenue, built in 1901 and passed down from his parents. Of course a street in the "mountain retreat colony" still carries the family name.
Joseph Urner lived a useful and fruitful life, dying at age 89 on July 6th, 1987. He would be laid to rest in the Urner family lot in Area AA/Lot 117, roughly fifty yards down the central cemetery lane from the Amon Burgee bust sculpture. He would be buried within feet of his parents and other family members. His wife Irma would pass in November of the next year. His work here in Frederick, and at Gettysburg National Battlefield, are living testaments to his artistic talent and ability.
Our names—oh, those unique identifiers. They are varied. They are special. They are unique, unless, of course, you hold the moniker of John Smith. I say that only in jest, because not all John Smiths are created equal, and that is the ultimate beauty of individuality in a society that is slowly becoming more and more homogenized. That may be okay for milk, but I’m not a big fan of globalization and sameness among people, places and experiences. I like authenticity (the quality of being authentic or genuine) and diversity (the presence of differences within a given setting). That’s what makes Frederick so special, and in the same breath, the same can be said about Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Back to the name business, nowhere can the originality of the subject of diversity be seen more clearly than at a cemetery. Thousands of names are etched upon gravestones, markers and monuments, everywhere you look. In some cases, you may spot ones that are distinctly “Frederick,” meaning they have been handed down for generations from original settlers dating back to the town and county’s founding in the mid-1700s. Other times, enlightenment comes with a name you’ve never seen before. This usually pertains to surnames, but can surely include first names too.
A stroll through this place can supply expectant couples plenty of options. Don’t laugh, throwback names from yesteryear are just as great as the trendy names offered by today’s “social influencers.” The jury may still be out on Orville, Milton, Gilmer, Hiram, Viola, Hester, Cora, or Bertha, but I’ve got four sons with names that are a little different from their respective college and high school classmates. These include Jack (John), Nick (Nicholas), Vinnie (Vincent) and Eddie (Edwin).
I’ve been asked what’s the strangest first name I’ve encountered during my time here. Up until recently, three immediately come to mind in Gamaliel Easterday, Lycurgus Hedges and Confederate Row’s Raisin Pitts. However, I have seen a new light with the discovery of the absolute, strangest first name in Mount Olivet—Strange. That’s right it’s actually the name “Strange,” itself. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present the gravestone of the decedent found in Area X/Lot 82.
The grave of Strange Hall Talbott surely will elicit a doubletake. I was curious to learn more, but could not find a definitive rationale for the name as there could be a clever story of association that has been lost in time. Maybe this individual looked “strange” as a baby? Maybe the pregnancy came under questionable (strange) circumstances? Was his birth unusual or abnormal?
At first glance, I thought my subject was related to the local family connected to the oft-mentioned Talbott’s Tavern that once sat at the west end of West Patrick Street’s first block. This was purchased by Mr. Talbott in the 1820s from Catherine Kimboll, who had kept an ordinary here for quite some time. The site would continue its history as a popular inn as it would eventually become the famed City Hotel.
Frederick Diarist Jacob Engelbrecht and our local newspapers of the time document the fact that notable historical figures would stay here while visiting our fair town. These included such persons as Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, Davy Crockett, James Polk and Zachary Taylor. Many of these distinguished visitors chose Joseph Talbott’s tavern for their personal lodging, which may indicate that it was one of the finer establishments in town.
In the year 1824, Talbott’s Tavern/Hotel welcomed French general Marquis de Lafayette during his grand tour of the United States. While here, Lafayette received and greeted the public. Several celebrations were held, including a public dinner and ball for the great hero of the American Revolution.
Joseph Talbott’s tavern was rebranded the City Hotel around 1831, and demolished in the 1920s to make way for the Francis Scott Key Hotel, which eventually became luxury apartments. Joseph can be found living in Baltimore in the 1850s and appears to be running a guesthouse. Interestingly, I took note that his next-door neighbor was merchant Samuel Hinks, who is buried here and the subject of one of these “Stories in Stone” back in April of 2018. Hinks would serve as “Mobtown’s” mayor from 1854-1856, and would later retire to the Landon House located in nearby Urbana.
A final note regarding Joseph Talbott is that he would die in 1857, and is buried next to his wife Jane (nee Daniel) in an unmarked grave within Mount Olivet Cemetery in Baltimore. We have three of Joseph’s grandchildren buried here in Frederick’s Mount Olivet, all the children of Mahlon Talbott, who had a career as a lawyer both here and in Baltimore.
Two of the three children died before Mount Olivet opened and were originally buried in All Saints Protestant Episcopal burying ground along Carroll Creek. These bodies were moved here by local shopkeeper/grocer Basil Norris, who is responsible for moving his own two daughters’ bodies to the Norris family plot (F9-12) when the cemetery officially opened in 1854. As a matter of fact, it was Mr. Norris who erected the very first monument here in Mount Olivet to the memory of his teenage girls.
Basil Norris' Lot 10 in Area F contains the graves (and gravestones) of three of Mahlon Talbott's children located to the right of the taller twin-columned monument (the very first in the cemetery). From left to right are the graves of Joseph Henry Clay Talbott (1837-1852), John Charlton Talbott (1834-1835) and Annie Elizabeth Talbott (1833-1856). The boys' deaths predated Mount Olivet's opening and they were reinterred here from All Saints' Protestant Episcopal Cemetery in June 1854. Annie was 22 years of age when she died in 1856 in Baltimore.
There are 28 Talbotts buried here in Mount Olivet to date. I recall recently seeing the grave of Dr. Henry Thomas Talbott (1866-1909), a physician of Charles Town, West Virginia who married Lilian B. Hedges (1865-1892), daughter of the fore-mentioned Lycurgus Hedges. I pointed out Lilian’s beautifully carved stone with floral design to participants of a spring/garden-themed walking tour for our Friends of Mount Olivet this past April. Dr. Talbott’s father has a large monument on Area R/Lot 108. Henry Odel Talbott (1826-1913) was a former banker who spent most of his career in Charles Town as well.
These Talbotts hailed from the Beallsville area just across the Montgomery County border to our south. Henry Odel’s father (Henry Warren Talbott 1780-1859) and grandfather (Nathan Talbott 1763-1839) are buried in the old Monocacy Cemetery located at the southern foot of Sugarloaf Mountain. Nathan was a Revolutionary War Patriot who apparently enlisted here in Frederick. His father (William Talbott 1715-1781) came to Frederick, (today’s Montgomery) County from Prince Georges County and established a plantation here near present-day Poolesville. He was among a group of white settlers who attempted to grow tobacco as they had successfully done in southern Maryland. The family had been in Maryland since the early 1700s, hailing from Yorkshire, England.
Our subject, Strange Hall Talbott, had roots in West Virginia, and came to Frederick later in life. He spent his retirement at an iconic -looking house located on the southeast corner of East Third and East streets. This is diagonally across from St. John’s Catholic Cemetery.
Strange Hall Talbott was born on May 27th, 1882 to parents David Wesley Talbott and Celise Ruth Rogers. In case you were curious, the meaning of Celise is “the one who takes God as the oath.” The family was living in Philippi, West Virginia, a town of 3,000 people, county seat of Barbour County and the site of a Civil War battle in 1861. Although a minor skirmish, the Battle of Philippi is considered the earliest notable land action of the American Civil War.
For over a century, Philippi has been home to Alderson Broaddus University, a four-year liberal-arts school affiliated with the American Baptist Churches. I was delighted to learn that Philippi also served as the childhood home to actor Ted Cassidy (1932–1979), who played the roles of two of the “strangest” characters in television history. These included "Lurch" and "Thing" on the 1960s TV show The Addams Family. Mr. Cassidy was raised in Philippi, graduating from Philippi High School around 1950.
I couldn’t find much on Strange Hall Talbott and his life in Philippi outside of census records. I scoured his family tree and on original attempt couldn’t find “Strange” as a first, or last name. Upon further research, I found a few early (West) Virginia settlers who had the combination of “Strange Hall” in their names. In particular, I discovered a Jonathan Strange Hall (1797-1875) who settled in the “Collins Settlement” in what would later become Lewis County, WV. This was to the southwest of Barbour County. Jonathan Strange Hall had 12 children, with the sixth being Mary Hall, born at Skin Creek in 1827.
Mary would wed David J. Talbott (1822-1898) in 1845. In looking into the Talbott family, which appears also as Tolbert, I found the couple living in Buckhannon, Upshur County, which neighbored both Barbour and Lewis counties. This group, the Talbotts, were also early settlers of this area in the 1700s when the region was still part of Virginia. West Virginia would not become a separate state until 1864.
There is a gray area in the genealogical record involving this family with a generation connection. Ancestry.com trees and a few census records show a man named Enoch Talbott as our subject’s father, however, our Mount Olivet cemetery records and those pertaining to our subject show his father as David Wesley Talbott (1852-1917), a resident of Philippi. My “David Talbotts” don’t simply have the “strange” connection I was hoping for. David Wesley Talbott (father of Strange) is shown to be the son of Enoch Talbott (1832-1901) and wife Susan O’ Neal. Perhaps a relative can bail me out on this?
Regardless, Strange Talbott worked on the family farm during his youth and attended school. He married Minnie Ella Rohr on November 25th, 1898, in Barbour County and lived south of Philippi in the village of Union for about 10 years. The family would have no children and relocated to Buckhannon, Upshur County by late summer 1918. Strange did not serve in World War I, but registered for the draft as was mandatory.
The census of 1920 shows Strange running a truck farm. The same would hold true ten years later in 1930. Minnie would die in 1931, and our subject remarried Ora V. Linger (b. February 12th, 1904) in 1934. She was the daughter of a schoolteacher, John C. Linger and lived nearby outside Buckhannon. As a fitting aside, Ora is a name of Latin origin meaning "prayer.” The couple continued living off the Brushy Fork Road southwest of Buckhannon.
Strange retired in 1947 and would come to Frederick with his wife of 14 years. This move east could have been precipitated by Ora’s sister and parents living in nearby Hagerstown. Another brother lived in Martinsburg.
The Talbotts were deeded their property here on August 26th, 1947 by P. Luther Rice of Frederick. The 1950 US Census gives us a little clue to what the couple were up to, along with a few boarders found living with them at this time.
Strange Hall Talbott did not make the papers as far as I can see. He didn’t get in trouble or do anything newsworthy either. His name finally appears in late June upon his death on 18 June 1959 at the age of 77. He would be buried in front of a row of Hemlock trees in Area X/Lot 82.
Ora died a week shy of her 61st birthday on February 5th, 1965. I found it only fitting that the paper would boldly refer to her as "Mrs. Strange H. Talbott" in the header instead of Ora L. Talbott.
Talbott Family History
In looking again at the Talbott family, I see a major branch in Maryland, and of course another in Virginia/West Virginia. Strange’s family was a shining example of the early “wild west” and westward migration, although he would reverse that trend with his move east 150 years later. I found out more about his ancestors in Barbour County from some old histories of the area republished online. There is even a community named Talbott in honor of founder Robert R. Talbott, who moved here in the year 1846. This is located off Route 48 midway between Elkins and Buckhannon. Robert R. Talbott came from a few miles north of Philippi and built his cabin before he brought the family of a wife and one small child. Supposedly, it took them two days to walk from their former home, and Mr. Talbott carried all of his property on his back while his wife carried their child. Earlier ancestors had come to this part of Virginia from Richmond County at the time of the American Revolution, likely as payment for military service.
“The first white settlement in present-day Barbour County was established in 1780 by Richard Talbott – along with his brother Cotteral and sister Charity – about three miles downriver from the future site of Philippi. At this time, the region was still a part of Monongalia County, Virginia. The region had had no permanent Indian settlements and so conflicts with Native Americans were relatively infrequent in the early days. Nevertheless, the Talbotts were obliged to leave their homestead several times for safety and twice found it necessary to retreat back east of the Alleghenies, returning each time. No member of this eventually large family was ever killed by Indian attacks.
Over time, parts of the future Barbour County were included in the newly created Harrison (1784), Randolph (1787), and Lewis (1816) Counties. Barbour County, itself, was created in 1843 and named for the late Virginia politician and jurist Philip P. Barbour (1783–1841). (Barbour had served as a U.S. Congressman from Virginia, Speaker of the House, and Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.) The settlement of Philippi – formerly "Anglin's Ford" and "Booth's Ferry" – was platted, named, and made the county seat in the same year; it was chartered in 1844. By the 1850s, when a major covered bridge was constructed at Philippi to service travelers on the Beverly-Fairmont Turnpike, the county's population was approaching 10,000 people.”
My assistant Marilyn Veek attempted to close the gap on the Talbott-Strange connection through Mary Hall and David J. Talbott as I mentioned earlier. She found a not-so-well documented familysearch.org tree which traced Mary’s father, Jonathan Strange Hall to his father Joseph Hall (1745-1824) and mother Mary Anne Hitt (1756-1813). Mary Anne Hitt had been previously married to a man named William George Strange (1760-1795). This would have made her the widow Mary Anne Strange who later married Joseph Hall.
Apparently, there is a legend about Mary Anne’s former husband, William George Strange. This was written by David Sibray this past January and published in West Virginia Explorer Magazine. It’s worth the read, although very “strange” as you can imagine.
Tuesday, June 14th marked "Flag Day," the annual observation that celebrates the day in 1777 when the United States approved the design for its first flag. Although not a federal holiday, the observance dates back to the 1880s, although there is a claim that it could have started with a first formal celebration in 1861.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14th as the official date for Flag Day, and in 1949 the U.S. Congress permanently established the date as National Flag Day. One more interesting fact is that Pennsylvania celebrates Flag Day as a state holiday.
Last year, in 2021, our Friends of Mount Olivet membership group thought it important to recognize Flag Day with some sort of commemoration on site at the cemetery within clear view of the US flag, the same that gave inspiration for our most famous decedent to write what, in time, would become our national anthem. Of course we are talking about Francis Scott Key.
We went one step further with creating a Flag Day lecture tradition in which we would feature a local author who has written something connected to Mount Olivet or those buried within. Last year, it was Lori Swerda who wrote a novel called Star-Spangled Scandal about the murder of Francis Scott Key's son, Phillip Barton Key. The dastardly act of 1859 was performed by a sitting congressman from New York, who would later lead troops at the Battle of Gettysburg. This was Daniel Sickles, who eventually beat the charge with the first successful use of the temporary insanity plea.
This year's lecture focused on a true Frederick patriot and one-time mayor, whose father came to Frederick in "literal" chains as a prisoner of the American Revolution. Jacob Engelbrecht's father was a mercenary soldier from the German state of Hesse, what we would call a Hessian soldier. He was housed only a block and a half from our cemetery at the Frederick Barracks, which have held the title of the Hessian Barracks since housing these soldiers in the early 1780s.
Within a century, the name of Engelbrecht would gain great reputation and respect in the Frederick community. Jacob had a big hand in "turning lemons into lemonade" through his work as a tailor and civic involvement. Interestingly, his neighbor Barbara Fritchie helped the public relations aspect of her last name as well because her father-in-law was on the wrong side of history during the Revolution as a Tory Loyalist. He unfortunately was executed for his treason, where the Hessian soldiers were welcomed warmly into the community with definitive German settlement origins dating back to the 1730s and 1740s.
June 14th, 2022 was a beautiful night to salute the flag and learn about a gentleman who kept a diary of Frederick events from 1819 up through his death in 1878. To recount his life story and achievements, Heritage Frederick docent and tour guide Jim Callear prepared a nice speech to share with our participants. It was so nice and original, in my humble appraisal, that I asked Jim, a professional antique appraiser, himself, if I could republish here as the crux of a "Story in Stone" article.
The following is a transcript of Jim Callear's presentation on Jacob Engelbrecht.
I am honored to be speaking on Jacob Engelbrecht and his diaries on this special occasion. Before I address Engelbrecht and his work, I want to acknowledge the work of those who ensured that his diaries could be printed and accessible to the public: his family, who preserved the diaries and made them publicly available; Professor William Quynn who first published the diaries in 1976; Paul and Rita Gordon, whose tireless efforts led to the republication of the diaries in the current, expanded format; Mark Hudson, executive director of Heritage Frederick; and others who handled all phases of the editorial work that went into moving the words from Englebrecht’s handwritten diaries to the printed page.
Even without the diaries, the Engelbrecht family would have merited our attention because of their role in the early settlement of Frederick. Jacob’s father, Johann Conrad Engelbrecht, was born in Bavaria, fought for the British, and came to Frederick by way of Yorktown, where he became a prisoner of war in 1781. After marching from Virginia to Maryland, he joined other prisoners at the Hessian Barracks. After news of the peace treaty with Great Britain reached the colonies in 1783, the Hessian Barracks prisoners were given the choice of staying in this country or going back to Europe.
Engelbrecht stayed and soon married the daughter of a local schoolmaster. They went on to have 10 children, one of whom was Jacob. The story of Conrad, Jacob, and their succeeding generations embody the assimilation and success of many of the immigrant settlers in Frederick.
I want to turn to the diaries now. In his forward to the diaries, Paul Gordan noted that Jacob Engelbrecht had several occupations – tailor, shopkeeper, cabinet maker, council member, and mayor – but had many other “preoccupations.” We know of his passion for music – he was both a member of a choir and a band member, playing the French horn. He loved to garden and he was an expert in the care and development of fruit trees, frequently telling us of his experiments in grafting the branch of one fruit tree to another. He was a traveler going to other cities on the East Coast, where he would act as his own tour guide, finding churches, government buildings and historic sites to visit and observe. And, of course, he liked wandering around Frederick.
In reading Engelbrecht’s diaries, one thing is clear: he had an insatiable curiosity about his world and the people in it. I am going to briefly explore five areas where Engelbrecht recorded facts that reveal something about his world. Not only do we learn about the people and places he recorded, but we also learn what kind of person Englebrecht was.
First and foremost, Englebrecht was a dispassionate recorder of facts, particularly when it came to the weather, prices of food items, deaths and marriages. We might be told whether the bride or groom was an immigrant from Europe, or the son or daughter of a family in Frederick, and who the officiating minister was. With regard to deaths, there are few character judgments and even less on how the individual deaths may have affected him. An exception to this was his diary entry regarding his daughter who died at the age of 6 from scarlet fever. “Rest in peace poor darling.” (9/14/1832). His brief entry hides the real pain he must have felt because on September 14, 1861, he wrote, “This day it is 29 years since the death of my little daughter Ann Rebecca . . . . Were she now alive, she would be 35 years 6 months & 18 days old. She died of scarlet fever.”
His wife’s death was recorded with a few more details than his usual death entries but with more apparent acceptance than his daughter’s death because of his wife’s age. (1/1/1873). Another death that warranted more than his usual factual recitation was that of Roger Brooke Taney, whom he tells us was buried “in first rate Catholic style.” (10/15/1864).
Another area where Engelbrecht is very guarded in what he tells us is his work. What is clear from the diaries is that Engelbrecht is very good about separating his work life from his personal life (or as Paul Gordan stated his “preoccupations”). There are few entries that deal his work as a tailor or shop keeper. One entry documents that Engelbrecht sold the contents of his shop and returned to tailoring with his brothers in the shop that his father formerly ran. (5/7/1841). Another entry describes how he had to stay up late to finish work on mourning clothes for a customer who had to attend a funeral the next day. (11/26/1821). But, Engelbrecht does not tell us much about who his customers were, where he bought his supplies, or whether he had help in his shop. He had several apprentices, but he records only when they came to work for him and when they left.
Third, there were areas of Engelbrecht’s life that he was deeply passionate about: politics, abolishing slavery, and preserving the Union. He was a diehard Republican and kept score on wins and losses in both local and national elections. Engelbrecht’s views on slavery were clear. When the new Maryland constitution was adopted in 1864, Engelbrecht writes, “From this day forward and forever . . . Maryland is free from the foul blot of slavery – until yesterday there were more than 90,000 slaves . . . (& about 80,000 free blacks). ‘All men are created free.’” (11/1/1864).
His view on the Union and its preservation are equally unequivocal. Just prior to the Civil War, he recorded the secession of several southern states and stated, “Maryland will never leave our glorious union, at any rate not by my consent.” (1/21/1861). At a Union pole raising signifying opposition to secession, he wrote, “The Constitution and the Union, now and forever, one and Indivisible.” (1/21/1861). Four years later at the end of the Civil War, Engelbrecht noted that the cost of the war was $2,600,000. He concluded, “the Union of this government is cheap even at that price . . .. In the gloomiest time, I did not believe that God would forsake our government & country.” (8/8/1865).
Fourth, we see glimpses of his humor, his interests in entertainment, and his humanity in his diaries. Engelbrecht’s efforts at humor were sporadic and subtle: “There is an eclipse of the moon . . . at twelve o’clock, but I can’t think of staying up to see . . . a corner of the moon off. If I get sleepy, I’ll eclipse it to bed that’s better.” (2/5/1822). “Yesterday morning I bought a half ticket to the ‘Maryland State Lottery’. . . . So I have half a chance to win nothing.” (7/31/1821).
Engelbrecht showed us that Frederick was not just a place where people worked – they also played (at least a little bit). There were domesticated snakes at Talbot’s Tavern (10/4/1822); there was rope dancing with Jacob Engelbrecht and his band providing the musical accompaniment (8/29/1822); and lions, tigers, and talking parrots on North Market Street (4/7/1835) – all available at low admission prices. It seems that we must include in the entertainment category, public executions. One in particular was noteworthy – John Markley, who murdered 6 people in the Newey house, was hung at the barracks before a crowd of three or four thousand, Engelbrecht estimated. (6/24/1831).
I am not sure whether this rates as humor or entertainment, but as I was looking through the index under Engelbrecht’s wife’s name, I saw “weight” listed as a diary item. In fact, there were two entries. Well, to my surprise, getting weights taken back then was no easy matter – there were no bathroom scales were there? Jacob, his wife and their daughter made a trip to a local mill and were weighed, and if you need to know Jacob weighed in at 160 lbs. and his wife at 113 lbs. (4/18/1826).
Humanity is defined as one’s compassion to his fellow man. We see incidents of Engelbrecht’s humanity in his diary entries. He tells us of an enslaved boy of 13 who was in his shop, and Engelbrecht learned that he did not have a name. “I took the liberty with his consent of naming him . . . . I gave him the name on a piece of paper which he promised to preserve and be governed accordingly.” (12/21/1824). On another occasion, Engelbrecht appeared before a lawyer to verify under oath that an African American was free and had been born to parents who were free. The purpose of this was to enable the man to obtain a certificate of freedom from the clerk of the Frederick County Court. 7/12/1825.
Finally, where Engelbrecht excels as a diarist was in recording events in Frederick. For instance, there are nine diary entries pertaining to the flooding of Carroll Creek. Engelbrecht describes how Barbara Fritchie’s original house on the creek was torn down so the creek could be widened. (4/8/1869). Who knew the city’s flood control efforts started back them? Engelbrecht used that diary entry to write that the flag waving incident, memorialized in the poem by Whittier, “is not true.” (4/8/1869). Another interesting event he recorded was the beginning of the McMurray Canning Co., which he said many had predicted would fail. Engelbrecht’s response was that it might as well fail in Frederick Co. as else any other county. (3/27/1869). Of course, McMurray went on to employ nearly 1000 workers and produce 1 million cans of corn in one season.
Of tremendous importance are his diary excepts that relate to the Civil War, Antietam, and the Battle of Monocacy, because they illustrate Engelbrecht’s view of major events going on around him that also affected the city, state, and nation.
These diary entries reminded me of a program in the early days of television where news anchor Walter Cronkite would be at history-making events during the past centuries. At the end of the program, after Cronkite summarized what had happened and stated, "What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times... all things are as they were then, except you were there." That is the way these diary entries affect me.
Jacob Englebrecht’s diaries are a gift to us, because they are our unique connection to the history of Frederick, Maryland, and the nation for a span of 60 years. I have come to understand that my appreciation for the diaries rests on their being a very personal connection to Frederick’s past, more so than our historic houses and the antiques in them. For this, we owe Jacob Englebrecht our recognition and gratitude.
In addition to giving us a connection to our history, he also shows us what it means to be connected to a community, not only through his words in the diaries, but through his life, his public service, his loyalty to his city and country, and his humanity.
It is fitting that we honor him as we do today. In conclusion, I will simply say as Engelbrecht did in many of his early diary entries, “So we rub along.” 5/22/1822
Jacob died on February 22nd, 1878 at his home in Frederick along Carroll Creek on W. Patrick Street. He would be buried in the family plot (Area H/Lot 276) alongside his wife and daughter. His son Philipp would take up the charge of recording this event in his father’s diary:
“My Father, Jacob Engelbrecht, died February 22nd, 1878 aged 80 years 2 months and eleven days. The immediate disease of which he died, inflammation of the bowels. He was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery on Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock. Reverend George Diehl DD delivering a very able and interesting eulogy at the house and Reverend Bielefeld officiating at the grave. The funeral was largely attended. The Independent Hose Company attending in a body. A large number of colored persons came to pay their last respect, a class among whom he had many friends.”
Philipp was to keep up his father’s diary, but died just two months after Jacob. Various family members continued to make journal entries up through January, 1882 at which point the famous diary ends.
After Jim's lecture presentation, participants were invited to take part in a special wayside interpretive marker unveiling at Jacob's gravesite. The honors (of unveiling) were done by Beth Molesworth, Jim Callear and the marker's graphic designer Ruth Bielobocky of Ion Design (Charles Town, WV).
Ms. Molesworth is a descendant of Jacob Engelbrecht and helped make the marker possible, with additional monetary support in the form of a mini-grant from the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. She was kind enough to say a few words about her famous ancestor, and gave thanks on behalf of her family that the famed diarist's story would be shared with visitors, tourists, lot-holders and local residents alike through this cemetery amenity.
Ms. Molesworth shared that her uncle, also named Jacob L. "Jake" Engelbrecht was the one who inherited the diaries, and later donated them to the Historical Society. This gentleman was the grandson of the diarist and made this gift to the Society in 1958. In 1976, the diaries were transcribed and published for the first time. They would be republished in 2001.
Our story title is sure to attract attention, but won't likely make sense until you finish this article.
On the last day of April, we hosted a workshop in conjunction with Preservation Maryland. Folks from around the region representing a number of cemeteries, big and small, were on-hand to learn best practices associated with cleaning and repairing gravestones. As many of our readers know, this certainly wasn’t our first “rodeo,” as we (ironically) “live and breathe” cemetery preservation here, usually holding annual workshops of this kind.
I relish the opportunity of having Mount Olivet play the role of “restoration classroom,” because we benefit greatly. Each session brings the promise of repairing a handful of our unfortunate collection of downed, and damaged, stones. They are either brought back to their original state, or at least, a highly acceptable one state based on the damage suffered over the decades.
A great article on this workshop appeared the following Monday (after our Saturday session) in our local newspaper. It certainly helped raise awareness to not only the problem that besets old, historic cemeteries in regard to preservation, but more so, the message was conveyed that we can make a difference simply by an effort being made to garner time, money, know-how and volunteers. Gravestones can be cleaned, fixed and repaired if an effort is made.
The News-Post reporter, Mary Grace Keller, was very enthusiastic during her short time with us, and I can say with surety that she perfectly captured the spirit of what we are trying to do. And how could she not with “yours truly” in one ear, and more so, the distinguished experts we had on hand to lead the workshop. Ms. Keller had the chance to briefly interview three others who are among the tops in the respective preservation game on a state and national level.
The session on this day was being led by our old friends Jonathan Appell and Moss Rudley. As one of the nation’s foremost gravestone restoration experts, Jonathan operates Atlas Preservation out of his home headquarters in Southington, Connecticut. As I write this article, he is currently in Nebraska, as part of his “48 State Tour” in which he is presenting workshops of this nature in cemeteries in all 48 continental states of the country.
Based here in Frederick as the superintendent of the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center, Moss is well known both locally and nationally, and equally well-traveled throughout the U.S. and highly respected. For those not familiar with this unique NPS unit, headquartered here in Frederick, I will share this part of its mission statement from the center’s webpage:
“The HPTC utilizes historic preservation projects as the main vehicle for teaching preservation philosophy and building crafts, technology, and project management skills. Their experiential learning approach emphasizes flexibility in addressing the unknown conditions encountered during projects and ensures that the goals of preservation are met.”
The operation serves NPS historic sites throughout the country and has its executive headquarters at the Gambrill Mansion on Monocacy National Battlefield, and a workshop facility on Commerce Street, immediately next to my old stomping grounds of the Frederick Visitor Center.
Last, but certainly not least, we had Nicholas Redding here with us on site at the time Mary Grace observed the workshop. Nick is a Walkersville resident and also the individual primarily responsible for setting this special session up in the first place. He serves as president and CEO of Preservation Maryland, a non-profit based in Baltimore that works to protect the state’s heritage and historic structures.
Mary Grace had a front row seat to view these master craftsmen and volunteers in action. At this time in the program, they were working on a gravesite in Mount Olivet’s Area C. Two large dyes (principal piece of monuments with information inscribed) had toppled, likely years ago. This commonly occurs due to unsound foundations. Today, grave monuments are usually placed atop substantial concrete foundations poured over well compacted earth. The same “terra firma” covers sound, concrete lined burial vaults which contain the caskets. Concrete vaults further improved upon the use of perma-crete vault liner kits introduced in the 1930s.
However, in yesteryear, fixed compartments containing the casket were not always the norm. Interestingly, the absence of a vault for many graves in our historic parts of the cemetery doesn’t seem to cause many future issues. This is relative when you think about it due to the fact that if you had little to spend on the burial, you likely had little to spend on the grave monument. Small monuments cause small problems, as opposed to medium and large-sized gravestones. We commonly see vintage era children’s graves covered by small stones.
However, gravesites with vaults and dirt shoulders are a potential problem, and, in many instances, have not been able to last an eternity. For an explanation, a dirt-shouldered grave is one in which a rectangular hole accepted the casket, and a piece of slatestone serves as a lid being supported by opposing ledges of dirt. A step up from this practice came with a request for a brick-lined vault, which called for a mason to build four walls to accept the casket. Sometimes cement was used to join the bricks, however there were many more that just had bricks stacked to form walls with no joining agent whatsoever. In some cases, a floor was actually laid, other times not. Regardless, a piece of slatestone was also employed here as a ceiling topper for this custom-made casket vault.
After the graveside services and placement of the coffin in the respective vault, dirt was shoveled back in the hole to cover the slatestone and entirety of the brickwork up to surface level. Lastly, after allowing for settling and more compaction, a heavy monument was added in the same vein a cherry is added to a sundae. Over time, the slatestone covering of the vault, or the brick walls can fail, collapsing earth into the casket and vault cavity below. With this ground shift, a monument above and once level, now leans or has fallen over. This may be enough to topple some large monuments, especially multi-piece structures that are simply stacked pieces relying on the laws of gravity.
If the monument doesn’t collapse at first, the occurrence into an angled position, may allow water (in the form of rain or snow) to reach iron pins that traditionally connect a base stone to the upright backboard (called a dye). The pins can expand and contract based on weather conditions and commonly fracture marble tombstones toward the base. These eventually will rust as more water reaches the pin at open fracture points. The pins become brittle and eventually break, causing the dye to fall over—hopefully not into another gravestone.
After that laborious explanation, I will say that the repair at hand, captured in the News-Post photo in Area C/Lot 22, did not involve the level of complexity needed for the stone situations pictured above. Those would need extraction of old pins (which is pretty tricky), pin replacement, and filling fractures, etc.
The current repair featured two stones that were not joined by pins. these had simply leaned to a point of toppling over. Our repair involved the addressing of the ground level foundation with dirt and gravel, first and foremost. With the base stone now put to a perfectly level position, a special tripod was used to lift the dye into place (atop the leveled base below). Lead strips were used to re-set the monuments.
The reporter asked if I knew who the decedents connected to these specific gravestones were? I asked her to give me a minute as I had no idea, John and Moss simply decided to spotlight these graves for the afternoon repair. I did some quick, on the spot, research courtesy on my phone and learned that the plot owner was one Christian Eckstein, who died in 1874. His wife, Elizabeth, was to his right and had passed in 1892. A stone to the left of Christian was illegible, with the dye actually broken in half with a diagonal fracture. I would later find this to be William F. Eckstein (1856-1910). One more individual, Mary C. (Eckstein) Koontz (1856-1910) is buried to the right of Elizabeth and was a married daughter of the couple whose grave monument is in perfect shape.
Both Christian and Elizabeth were natives of Germany. Christian was born on October 22nd, 1822 in Dernichein in Hesse-Kassel, Germany. His wife, the former Elizabeth Kepple, was also from Derniechein as well. The couple married on April 26th, 1841. Four years later in 1845, they immigrated to America, landing in Baltimore. This is where we find the Ecksteins in the 1850 US Census. They would welcome their first-born child, Christian Henry, on October 10th, 1845. The couple would go on to have even children from my research.
Christian is listed as a milkman, a “milchmann” in the Eckstein’s native tongue. I would find his son Christian H. Eckstein’s biography in T. J.C. William’s History of Frederick County (published in 1910). It said that Christian Eckstein “successfully followed the dairy business until 1854, in which year he removed to Frederick.”
In the 1860 census, Christian is listed as operating a tavern. I learned that he may have started at the noted Dill House that once sat at the corner of West Church and Court Street. I did an earlier story on the origins of this location, now represented by a stellar, macadam parking lot serving the Paul Mitchell Temple and M&T Bank.
I was fascinated to learn that, although German, Christian was outspoken during the American Civil War. Where most Germans and Irish immigrants backed the Union, I don’t think many were particularly excited to fight a war. Just check out the 2002 Academy Award ® winning film of the year by Martin Scorsese, The Gangs of New York, for proof of this statement. The film includes a scene dealing with the infamous New York City Draft Riots of mid-July, 1863. This occurred a few weeks after Gettysburg as President Lincoln instituted a mandatory draft. This did not sit well with the Bowery Boys and others.
Of course, dissenting stories of valor surround immigrants in local action such as the famed Irish Brigade (69th NY Infantry) at Antietam, and heroics of Paddy O’Rorke at Little Round Top in the Battle of Gettysburg. In this blog, I’ve also chronicled the bravery of Capt. Joseph Groff of Frederick, extremely proud of his German heritage, as he fought for the Union in the Potomac Home Brigade.
In doing more study, I theorize Christian could have seen war much the same as Leonardo DiCaprio’s character of Amsterdam Vallon. You escaped mayhem in the “old world” to come to this country, and you’re trying hard to eke out a living here. Then you get drafted and forced to fight a “rich man’s” war in which the politicians and wealthy, who have the most to gain, can get their son’s a replacement soldier to fight in their place.
Eckstein was from Hesse-Cassel, the German state known for the famed Hessian soldiers. These mercenary soldiers were rented out by Frederick II of Hesse to Great Britain to fight us in the Revolutionary War. Many of these Germans stayed here after the war instead of going back to a country. Why not, their former leader forced them into servitude. One such Hessian who stayed was Francis Klinehart, namesake of Klinehart Alley. He was a tavern keeper whose daughter married Joshua Dill, founder of the tavern that took his name.
Anyway, Eckstein surprised me because he was outspoken in his support of the South. An article found in 1861 lays claim to this fact as Christian voiced his opposition to President Lincoln in a church service at the German Reformed Congregation (Trinity Chapel).
Perhaps this was in response to pacifying southern leaning clientele at the tavern, located just a few doors down the street from the church. I’m assuming that Christian also wanted to keep in good grace with the many firefighters who doubled as militia, and frequented his popular tavern. He was also a member of the Junior Fire Company. Either way it seems he did his best on behalf of the Southern Cause in the form of getting Union soldiers drunk.
Eckstein had opened his own bar by 1862, which would take his name. This was located on the northwest corner of North Market and third streets. This location at 301 North Market Street, also doubled as his home residence as far as I could tell.
Diarist Jacob Engelbrecht notes the following event in his diary on July 14th, 1862:
“Lager beer saloon—Mr. Christian Eckstein, who keeps a lager beer saloon at the corner of Market and 3rd Street, was called on by the Provost Marshal & his posse with a wagon, & took 21 kegs of lager beer other article in his line. Government reason, selling liquor to the soldiers. This happened on Saturday evening last 12th instant.”
The war came and went, and I’m sure Mr. Eckstein sold plenty more alcohol to the various soldiers of both armies who visited our city along the way. Weeks after the surrender at Appomattox in April, 1865, Christian Eckstein embarked on a sojourn back to his native homeland (Germany) accompanied by a friend and fellow resident named Jacob Schmidt, who kept the Black Horse Tavern located on the famed bend in the second block of West Patrick Street. They left town by train on May 15th and returned on August 30th after a pleasant trip.
Upon his return, Eckstein saw his eldest son, the fore-mentioned Christian H. Eckstein (1845-1917), join the Frederick Bar in 1866, and pursue politics. Like is father, he was an ardent member of the Conservative Democrat Party who would become one of Frederick’s most outstanding citizens of his time as a longtime Justice of the Peace appointee.
Our subject's son Christian H. Eckstein was appointed to the Board of Trustees to the Almshouse (Montevue Home) in 1866 and again in 1868. A clipping from a paper, that latter year, shows that the family came close to needing services from the emergency hospital at Montevue. This was certainly not not the best weekend to frequent Eckstein's Saloon.
Our subject Christian was a leading member of the International Order of Odd Fellows and assisted in starting a German Building Company here in Frederick. He also stayed busy as a lieutenant in a local militia outfit and took great pride in participating with this group in parades and special functions.
In addition to slinging beer, Mr. Eckstein was an avid marksman. Jacob Engelbrecht makes mention to Herr Eckstein again in reference to an interesting purchase of land on Fredericks’ northwest side:
“Deutsche Scheutzen park—This park adjoining our city was sold at public sale on Saturday last March 12, 1870 to Christian Eckstein for fifteen-thousand one hundred dollars ($15,100). It contains 28 and ½ acres of sand and was formerly part of the farm of Mr. Stephen Ramsburg but lately to Doctor William Tyler from whom the “Scheutzen Gesellschaft” purchased it.”
For quite sometime, I have had a particular interest in this curious organization of German origin. I first stumbled upon the Deutche Sheutzen Gesellschaft in context to the local German Civil War soldier Joseph Groff. His name would be applied to Groff Park which was synonymous with Frederick Scheutzen Park. You know this locale better today as the campus of Hood College, northwest of Frederick’s downtown center.
The Deutche Scheutzen Gesellschaft was in essence a private membership stock company that featured shooting and drinking for its members boasting German heritage. Eckstein and Groff were leading organizers and members of this early example of the many German-American social clubs that can be found throughout our country today. Frederick has always been proud of its strong German ties, with origins dating back to the 1730s/1740s with many of its first families of settlers hailing from Deutchland such as the Schleys, Steiners, Mantzs, Ramsburgs, Brunners and Getzendanners.
“Scheutzen” translates to shooting, and “gesellschaft” means organization. Frederick’s Scheutzen Park began as a shooting range, and what better means of celebrating cultural heritage are there than drinking and shooting—just hopefully done responsibly.
I’ve read that Scheutzen Park was noted for its social events including fine dinners and dancing were available in a grand ballroom, especially German cuisine. The large social hall was constructed in 1868, and the local members were aided in laying the cornerstone for this impressive building with the help of the Adam Masonic Lodge and the mayor of Baltimore accompanied by a contingent of like organization members from “Charm City.”
I was pleased to find that Christian delivered the opening remarks for this interesting event in July of that year.
Construction would be done over the summer and fall, with a grand opening gala in November. Take note that Christian H. Eckstein was on the committee of arrangements, but also held the position of "First Sheutzenmeister" (translates to first shooting master.)
The Gesellschaft didn’t last long, but the main building still stands proud today on the Hood campus, and boasts plenty of revelry in the form of music played within over its life. This is Brodbeck Hall, home of the college’s music department, after serving as the clubhouse for the German social club, which came complete with an old-fashioned beer garden to accommodate stockholders.
Something went awry as the Scheutzen Park was put up for public sale not long after its grand opening. Christian Eckstein would purchase this property in 1869, and sold it shortly thereafter to Capt. Groff, who was the former proprietor of the Arlington House Hotel on North Market, and later the Groff House Hotel on North Market Street at Seventh Street and by the fountain.
This is when the property was renamed Groff Park. The grounds with its many lanes offered an oasis for scenic carriage rides and social and athletic events to be held on its spacious grounds. The Groff family would split time living here and used the vicinity to grow gardens of produce that would be used to feed guests staying in their hotel. The couple's oldest son, David, would grow flowers here for his successful career as a local florist. Eventually, Groff Park would be sold to Margaret Scholl Hood in the 1890s. Mrs. Hood would later deed the former Groff Park to Dr. Joseph Henry Apple and the Frederick Women's College and in 1915, this would comprise the newly named seat of higher education for women named Hood College.
In case you were curious, "Brodbeck" is an occupational name and translates to "Baker of bread."
As for Christian and family, we find he and his wife still operating their saloon in the 1870 census. Son Charles would make an unsuccessful run for Maryland’s House of Delegates as a Democratic candidate in 1871. The saloon on North Market would continue to be a favorite watering hole for members of the Conservative Democrat Party however.
Christian Eckstein died on April 5th, 1874. His obituary mentions a ten-year battle with Rheumatism, which resulted in him being an invalid in the few years preceding his death. I find it remarkable that he continued with his shooting and military ceremonial events amidst great pain.
He would be buried in Mount Olivet on April 7th. His gravesite would see activity upon the funerals of his wife and two children here, but there was quite a lull until our April 30th workshop and repairing his stone to its original glory as had been done 148 years before.
Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you what Eckstein translates from German to English. "Eck" means corner and "stein" means stone—cornerstone. Now that was fitting to be the signature "fix" as a focal point for a gravestone preservation workshop.
Memorial Day weekend has passed us by, but it’s hard not to be in a patriotic mood when you work as the historian of a cemetery like ours that boasts nearly 4,700 veterans. We still have flag-covered gravesites for a few more days, as the grounds are still humming in the aftermath of fine annual ceremonies by our Daughters of the America Revolution chapters and the Francis Scott Key American Legion Post 11.
Speaking of Francis Scott Key, the mortal remains of the man who helped “immortalize” the US flag are here in Mount Olivet, as is the great flag-waver, herself, Barbara Fritchie of Civil War fame, albeit a bit sketchy. We are only a week away from Flag Day (June 14th) and our annual patriotic lecture at the Key Chapel which kicks off at 7pm. (NOTE: This year, our subject will be Frederick diarist Jacob Engelbrecht, who will be the recipient of an upcoming “Story in Stone.”)
When I think of the US flag and its relation to Frederick, how can FSK and Barbara Fritchie not come to mind? Perhaps this is a question easily answered by native and long-time residents only, but don’t worry Frederick newcomers, our goal is to indoctrinate you into this frame of thinking as well.
Like Mount Olivet, Frederick is a very patriotic place. So much so, we made sure Francis and Barbara were strategically located by the front door entrance of the Frederick Visitor Center on South East Street. I know, because I worked on that project with my esteemed former colleagues of the Tourism Council of Frederick County in John Fieseler and Liz Shatto.
One other hero who has the flag, per se, to thank for his fame, was Admiral Winfield Scott Schley (b. 1839). As a matter of fact, he named his memoirs Forty-Years Under the Flag, published in 1904. If you are not familiar with Admiral Schley, the namesake of Schley Avenue (between Rosemont and West Seventh Street), he was a rear admiral in the United States Navy. More so, Schley was the hero of the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War on July 3rd, 1898.
His actions while in command of Admiral Thomas Dewey’s flagship, the USS Brooklyn, helped destroy the Spanish naval fleet, thus cutting off supplies and support to the Spanish infantry forces on land who were defeated by Gen. Joseph Wheeler featuring his legendary cavalry group— “the Rough Riders” under the command of one Teddy Roosevelt. Their eternal fame came with the Battle of San Juan Hill. One of these "Rough Riders" was Jesse Clagett, buried here in Mount Olivet’s Area P/Lot 36. (See Story)
Back to Admiral Winfield Scott Schley, he can be found on a postage stamp and also had a fine drink (Admiral Schley Punch) named in his honor. He died in 1911 but is not buried in Mount Olivet, but rather Arlington Cemetery. I will tell you more about him in a later story I plan to write in context with his family as his parents and siblings are buried here in Area P/Lot 9. This is directly adjacent the grave plot of Jesse Claggett and his family.
A few weeks back, I came across an article that mentioned Admiral Schley and the immortal "Rough Riders." Most interesting was the article’s description of Frederick as being the “Home of Heroes.” This really resonated with me, but probably because I’m also used to hearing the fore-mentioned Francis Scott Key’s line, “Home of the Brave.” The Francis Scott Key monument had been unveiled amidst great fanfare just a month after Schley and Clagett’s “heroics” in Cuba, and seven months previous to the article’s publication. I’m sure local residents were beaming with patriotism as their city and county were recognized on the national stage as being the home to Schley, Key and Fritchie.
The article in question makes mention to participants of the Spanish-American War. Overshadowed by the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World Wars to follow, the “Span-Am” War is usually relegated to B-League history along with the War of 1812 and Mexican War (which both preceded it). To give the Readers Digest version of this conflict, I present the Wikipedia synopsis:
The Spanish–American War (April 21 – August 13, 1898) was a period of armed conflict between Spain and the United States. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to United States intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. The war led to the United States emerging predominant in the Caribbean region, and resulted in U.S. acquisition of Spain's Pacific possessions. It led to United States involvement in the Philippine Revolution and later to the Philippine–American War.
The main issue was Cuban independence. Revolts had been occurring for some years in Cuba against Spanish colonial rule. The United States backed these revolts upon entering the Spanish–American War. There had been war scares before, as in the Virginius Affair in 1873. But in the late 1890s, American public opinion swayed in support of the rebellion because of reports of concentration camps set up to control the populace. Yellow journalism exaggerated the atrocities to further increase public fervor and to sell more newspapers and magazines.
This is an interesting passage, and gives us a unique lens in which to view current events that we continue to experience up through this day. It’s a recipe consisting of politics, power, money and the media. Author, astronomer, educator Carl Sagan (1934-1996) said it best when he wrote in his signature work Cosmos in 1980: “You have to know the past to understand the present.”
In the local Frederick news article referenced earlier (from 1899), I was interested to see the names of the local boys in Company A. I also took note that Frederick’s greatest inventor on record was chosen as parade marshal. Today his name, McClintock Young, adorns a local distillery on East Church Street, not far from the Ox Fibre Company where some of his creations help produce fine palmetto hand brushes.
Mr. Young is buried in Area H, not far from the toastmaster mentioned in this article for the banquet welcoming the soldiers back home. This was Douglas Henry Hargett (1846-1908) who rests only a short distance from the inventor in Area H /Lot 483. Hargett was a resident of East Church Street and a successful merchant. As the article mentions, he served as Clerk of the Frederick County Court in 1898. Interestingly, Mr. Hargett was the father of Lt. Earlston Lilburn Hargett (1892-1918), one of two men buried in Mount Olivet that were actually killed in battle during World War I.
I found this particularly ironic, because this article pointed out to me the fact that we had two local boys die during the “Span-Am” War, and they both are here in Mount Olivet. They did not die in battle, but rather of sickness. Nine such World War I soldiers buried here in Mount Olivet died in this fashion during the war, and their malady was the Spanish Flu Pandemic. Alas, Spain is to blame in some form or fashion!
The young gentlemen in question were George W. Morgan and Thomas Melvin Wolfe, Jr. You could not have two more different socio-economic backgrounds as what you have with these two boys. Finding information on both was a challenge to say the least, but they did appear in the 1880 census as youngsters. The 1890 census was lost, and they wouldn’t survive past the war year of 1898 to be counted among the living in 1900.
George W. Morgan
George William Morgan was born September 4, 1871 here in Frederick, the son of Jennie and husband William V. Morgan (1840-1905). The elder Morgan was a veteran of the American Civil War, serving in Company H of the Union’s Potomac Home Brigade. In the 1880 census, six-year old George can be found living at what was 304 West Patrick St. with his parents and three siblings.
Again not much can be gleaned from local resources aside from George entering military service into Maryland’s 1st Infantry Regiment, Company A. His name is among 26 who volunteered for military duty in this outfit in early May, 1898.
A few weeks later, this group, comprising Company A militiamen, would be mustered into active duty on the national level. Morgan’s initials were erroneously typed as E. W. Morgan instead of G. W. Morgan.
The soldiers would be sent to Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia for their initial training, before being transferred to Camp George Meade near Middletown, Pennsylvania in Dauphin County. Middletown is south of Harrisburg and conveniently located three miles north of the infamous Three-Mile Island of nuclear reactor meltdown fame when I was a kid.
I learned that Camp George Meade was established on August 24th, 1898, and soon thereafter was occupied by the Second Army Corps, of about 22,000 men under command of Maj. Gen. William M. Graham, which had been moved from Camp Alger in an attempt to outrun the typhoid fever epidemic. Camp Meade was visited by President William McKinley on August 27th, 1898. More on him in a little later.
Apparently, the camp had its own issue with typhoid fever that dreadful year. It’s no wonder, as this was commonplace as large numbers of men were detained in cramped quarters during wartime.
The number of typhoid deaths up through October 11th, 1898 would be 64. One of these victims would be Frederick’s George W. Morgan. He died on September 25th. Morgan's death made the local papers, and his body was escorted for burial in Mount Olivet by fellow Fredericktonians of Morgan's company.
Camp Meade was inspected November 3rd and 4th, and found to be spacious and well laid out. The water supply was obtained from artesian wells, and was piped to every organization. It was both good and abundant. The hospitals were commodious, and well equipped and conducted. The bathing facilities for the men were ample. The sanitary and other conditions were of high order, and the camp, as a whole, was open to but little criticism. The testimony of a number of officers and men was taken, and the troops and camp inspected. In November this camp was discontinued and the troops—not mustered out—distributed to the various camps in the South.
The installation was abandoned about November 17, 1898. The 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Division of the Second Army Corps was relocated to Camp Fornance, Columbia, South Carolina, and a brigade of the 1st Division, Second Corps to Camp Marion, Summerville, South Carolina.
"Sons of Veterans"
Private Morgan was buried in an interesting little burial plot in Area P/Lot 164. This lot was owned by the "Sons of Veterans." This organization was formed here in Frederick with a chapter in July of 1886. It was overseen by the local G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Post which had been formed years earlier and named in honor of Gen. John B. Reynolds, a Union officer who was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg just a few days after visiting Frederick in late June of 1863. With national headquarters in Fostoria, Ohio, the "Sons of Veterans" included sons of Union Civil War soldiers. The local chapter would purchase a grave plot here in Mount Olivet for use by its members.
George’s family members are buried in adjoining Lot 163, where a civilian headstone also bears the Span-Am War casualty’s name. I quickly recognized the name of another Spanish-American war vet buried in the "Sons of Veterans" lot and located to the immediate left of Private Morgan's gravesite. This is the burial spot of Walter J. Ely (1872-May 13, 1899). In the article above recounting Morgan's funeral, Ely is said to have accompanied the body from Camp Meade (PA) to Frederick, and was responsible for giving ceremonial bugle calls at the military funeral on September 28th, 1898 here in Mount Olivet.
I was surprised to see that Ely would be occupying his own grave in less than six months. This piqued my curiousity, so I made a quick inquiry to learn of his demise at the age of 27. Forrest Gump said "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get." In doing research at a cemetery for "a living," I can attest to "death," also, being like a box of chocolates.
Thomas M. Wolfe, Jr.
A more affluent upbringing involved Thomas Melvin Wolfe Jr, who died a little over a month before George W. Morgan. Wolfe was the son of Thomas M. Wolfe and wife Sydney and grew up in a fine residence on Record Street at Courthouse Square. His father was a veteran of the Civil War as well, having served as quartermaster of the Potomac Home Brigade. Mr. Wolfe was a successful businessman and civil servant having been appointed Postmaster by President Andrew Johnson immediately after the war. He would also serve as a Frederick Alderman.
Our decedent in this case, attended local schools, likely the Frederick Academy, and enlisted for service in Baltimore where he served in Company A of Maryland’s Fifth Regiment. I found the following regimental history online on a site called spanamwar.com:
The Fifth Maryland Volunteer Infantry, apparently formed around a Maryland National Guard unit, assembled at Pimlico, Maryland on April 25th, 1898. Several weeks later, on May 14th, the regiment was mustered into federal service. At the time of mustering in, the regiment consisted of forty-eight officers and 935 enlisted men.
Five days after being mustered in, the regiment was sent south, to the large training camp forming on the grounds of the old Civil War battlefield of Chickamauga in Georgia. The new camp was named Camp Thomas. The regiment arrived at Camp Thomas on May 21st, but, luckily for the men, the unit shipped out for Tampa, Florida shortly thereafter on June 2nd. Camp Thomas was to become greatly over crowded and very unsanitary, resulting in a large number of deaths.
The 5th Maryland arrived in Tampa on June 5th. On July 31st, the regiment was shifted slightly to Tampa Heights. It remained here until August 18th. The regiment was in this location when Spain and the U.S. agreed to an armistice, ending the war's fighting, though the war would not officially end until December 10, 1898, when the Treaty of Paris was signed.
On August 18th, 1898, the regiment proceeded to Huntsville, Alabama. Again, its stay was short, and on September 5th, it was ordered home to Baltimore, Maryland. The regiment was furloughed for one month, beginning on September 11th. On October 22nd, the Fifth Maryland Volunteer Infantry was mustered out of service. At the time of mustering out, the regiment consisted of forty-nine officers and 1,229 enlisted men.
During its term of service, the regiment had one officer and nineteen enlisted men die of disease. In addition, eight men were discharged on disability, one man was court-martialed, and three men deserted. The regiment has one of the lower desertion rates experienced by regiments during the war.
We are lucky to have a photograph of Private Wolfe as this was taken shortly before his death and included with news of his death in the Frederick newspaper.
Private Wolfe had become sick with typhoid fever, and was cared for in a Red Cross hospital that had been set up by Clara Barton herself. Wolfe's mother and a sister had the means to travel to Tampa to assist in the care of him. News of his illness was printed in the local paper, and it appeared he would make a recovery.
Typhoid fever, also known as typhoid, and is a disease caused by Salmonella serotype Typhi bacteria. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, and usually begin six to 30 days after exposure. Often there is a gradual onset of a high fever over several days. This is commonly accompanied by weakness, abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, and mild vomiting. Some people develop a skin rash with rose colored spots. In severe cases, people may experience confusion.
Unfortunately Thomas M. Wolfe's rally was only temporary as he would succumb to this prevalent wartime ailment on August 21st, 1898.
Private Wolfe was buried "a stone's throw away" from his brother in arms, George W. Morgan. He was laid to rest in the Wolfe family plot in Area Q/Lot 149. His father had been buried here since 1890.
Wolfe’s name is among those soldiers lost to the Fifth Maryland during the war. It can be found on a bronze plaque hanging on a wall within the Fifth Regiment Armory located in Baltimore. This structure can be found between Preston, Howard, Hoffman and Bolton streets.
I had earlier mentioned President McKinley who had visited Camp George Meade in Pennsylvania in late August, 1898, just three days after Thomas Wolfe's funeral here in Frederick on the 24th. I'm assuming that Private George W. Morgan had the opportunity to see, hear and possibly meet the chief executive on the occasion at Camp Meade that preceded his death by 28 days.
Interestingly, the president should have been here at Mount Olivet two weeks earlier on August 9th, as he was the recipient of a very important invitation to attend the unveiling ceremony of the Francis Scott Key Monument. He had been to Frederick before, but this was in wartime as a participant of the Battle of South Mountain. He served with an Ohio Regiment under his future mentor, and president, Rutherford B. Hayes.
I have included an elaborate newspaper article that discussed the circumstances of the Key monument invitation the previous winter by a delegation sent to the White House for the very purpose.